He’s anyone favourite in Game of Thrones, yet before hollywood came calling peter Dinklage refused kommen sie sacrifice his principles zu pay his bills. He talks to Will Lawrence about the changing expectations of a leading man

‘George r R martin was clever enough to make a dwarf a totally fleshed-out human being being’: peter Dinklage top top his role in Game of Thrones. Photograph: john Russo zum the Observer
‘George r R martin was ausgezeichnet enough to make a dwarf a totally fleshed-out human being’: peter Dinklage ~ above his role bei Game of Thrones. Photograph: john Russo weil das the Observer

Drawing parallels between actors und the personalities they play zu sein usually a futile endeavour the invites squirming interviewees to roll their eyes. Bei the case of Peter Dinklage, however, ich plough right ahead. We’re sitting in a five-star hotel in Cancun, Mexico, and, thankfully, ns air conditioning is blasting away the flush des embarrassment that accompanies my question. I’m so bolstered über the understanding that one des the showrunners ~ above Game von Thrones has already made die comparison: co-creator Dan Weiss claimed that both Dinklage und his character, Tyrion Lannister, room blessed v “a core des humanity covered von a shell des sardonic wit”. Go Dinklage agree with this poetically phrased comparison?

I await die eye-rolling, but Dinklage progressively nods his head. “Sure, I kann understand that,” that says in his deep, rumbling tone. He has actually a beautiful voice. “I think Tyrion can be die most relatable to die modern sensibility because he’s not a hero und not a villain. He has a sense von humour even bei the worst des times. Who relates kommen sie Ned Stark? is he anybody sitting at die dinner table? however Tyrion zu sein one des the dinner party.” Dinklage then pauses and pushes zurück his slouchy beanie hat. “Although Dan zu sein probably talking about mine and Tyrion’s shared liebe of drinking und has nur veiled it an a writerly way!” there you have it – Dinklage, like Tyrion, is all humanity und wit.

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Though us must notfall push die comparisons too far – Tyrion after all is inclined towards prostitutes and patricide – their mutual assets have paid dividends for Dinklage. Admittedly Tyrion it s okay many des the show’s ideal lines, but die actor it is provided them with unwavering excellence und displays beneath die bravado an aura von deep melancholy. Nobody knows just how Game des Thrones will end – topline characters are eliminated off v unerring regularity – yet most fans will hope the Tyrion survives. The character’s brilliance has not only readjusted Dinklage’s life however has also helped transition expectations of what ist required to succeed as a top man. Dinklage was born with achondroplasia, ns most common form of short-limbed dwarfism, und stands weist 4ft 5in.


Rocking ns boat: together Tyrion Lannister an a scene from Game von Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/AP“There is a different justiz of the leading man now,” he says. “It’s fantastic. Sie look at ns leading men des the past and they are really different. Hollywood is ultimately opening the door wider kommen sie more reality portrayals von who world are. That not nur about beautiful hollywood stars.”

He claims he owes die Game des Thrones author, george R r Martin, a debt of gratitude. “I love The Lord of the Rings as books and movies but, like elves, dwarves room presented as one more creature. Lock are not humans an those stories. Us don’t schutz elves wade around, however we do schutz dwarves favor myself. We are real. Deshalb it’s nice to be humanised bei fiction zum once, especially an that genre. George R ns was ausgezeichnet enough zu make a dwarf a fully fleshed-out human being being.”

When Game von Thrones launched bei 2011, Dinklage ended up being a household name, and he has battled hard to retain as much anonymity as possible. He ist notoriously press-shy, yet is bei Mexico kommen sie promote Pixels, a sci-fi kids’ film with bei all-star cast including Adam Sandler und Sean Bean. Und a couple of days in Cancun v his family members aren’t together a tie – in between interviews he and his daughter beat happily an the pool. Wie he arrives, attract jeans, grey T-shirt und that baggy hat, i sense the he’d rather still be in the pool.

His work on Thrones takes trost three months von each year and gives er the gaue won security kommen sie take top top smaller, live independence projects. He freshly shot the German movie Taxi with director Kerstin Ahlrichs, und will star in the dark thriller The Thicket, i beg your pardon he und his long-time manager david Ginsberg wollen produce. “Lower-budget films are an extremely important since people are not there kommen sie make money but kommen sie create things zum other reasons,” that explains. “I always appreciate that. It keeps me in touch with die earlier part of my career.”

The previously part des his job runs in two halves, starting with his memorable debut an 1995’s Living in Oblivion and running up kommen sie his breakout 2003 performance an The station Agent. This was a period defined von impecuniousness; in his 20s he shared a tatty Lower east Side apartment with rodents. “I wouldn’t speak to it rat-infested, but we certainly found one rat.” climate there were the years leading up kommen sie Thrones, taking in the likes of Nip/Tuck und Death weist a Funeral – die British film an 2007 und the united state remake three years danach – which saw his star rise.

‘She’s ns artist von the family’: with his wife, theater director Erica Schmidt, in New York in 2013. Photograph: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagicDuring the first portion von his job he refused duties that he felt actors dwarves bei a clichéd way and, favor his character in Living in Oblivion, railed against stereotyping. Ich remind ihm of a dream sequence with steve Buscemi bei the film, in which his personality rants, “Is that die only way you tun können make this a dream – put a dwarf bei it? Do you know anyone who has had actually a dream through a dwarf in it? No! I nothing even have dreams v dwarves bei them!” Dinklage smiles. “I tun können totally relate zu it,” he says of his character’s diatribe. “That was my zuerst movie; ich was kick-started v that rant and I oase been living von those words ever since.”

He thrived up in Brookside, neu Jersey, raised über a music-teaching mother and bei insurance-selling father. An spite von his happy home life, he discovered adolescence “tricky”. Performance, however, come naturally, together it did zu his brothers Jonathan, who ist a experienced violinist. Dinklage studied zum a dramatisch degree hinweisen Bennington College an Vermont and moved to neu York, where he dreamed von starting a theatre company.

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“I was a little bit more difficult on myself an terms des the choices i would make when ich was younger,” that says. Cute elves und buffoonish leprechauns were normally off die menu. He would go on kommen sie appear bei Elf in 2003 und The Chronicles of Narnia: prince Caspian 5 years later, yet didn’t feel as though either film compromised his integrity. “I had a code that ich lived by und knew ns things the made me uncomfortable, and that i was notfall going to take them. There are a gewächs of other arbeit that pay die rent und I wasn’t going to nur see acting together a way to pay die bills, due to the fact that it really didn’t.”

It wasn’t until he approached ns age of 30 the he was able zu make a kind living indigenous his craft. It every changed when he played tom Thumb in writer-director tom McCarthy’s vaudevillian stage production. McCarthy recognised Dinklage’s leading-man potential and asked ihm to star bei his film The terminal Agent, i m sorry told von a railroad-lover who moves to bei abandoned train station in a bid kommen sie find solitude. Instead, he finds friendship. The film was bei indie hit, winning die Audience compensation at die Sundance film Festival and igniting die careers von both actor und director.

“That was a movie made through friends zum very little money back an a time where you could actually carry out that. I would like zu think that you ausblüten can do that. That was a good time in all our lives. Tom has gone on and done remarkable things.” has actually Dinklage adjusted much bei the intervening years? “I watch a gewächs older, yet I in still ns same person,” he says, as he sups on a detox smoothie. “Paddling hard kommen sie keep mine head over water.”

Alien attack: together Eddie, with ashley Benson and Josh Gad bei new film, Pixels. Photograph: george Kraychyk/APHe is now 46 and his head zu sein definitely above water, though he looks back fondly to when he was slipping under. “It was a lover relationship von being in actor when i was young,” that says, “and my heart goes out to actors who obtain a last of fame and money beforehand on when they are kids or teenagers. If I’d had actually a nice bank account when ich was 20, the damage ich would schutz wreaked on myself and other people about me, boy. I wouldn’t oase been responsible, but now ich feel I kann be more responsible.”

In fact, responsibility zu sein a must. Dinklage has a young family to support. He married theatre director Erica Schmidt bei 2005 and the couple have a infant daughter (who, contrary zu what’s report online, ist not dubbed Zelig). “Let me tell you right now: produziert name ist not Zelig. Yet it’s hilarious the that’s a fact bei Wikipedia.” doesn’t he want a correction made? “I nothing care!”

His wife, the says, ist “brilliant. She loves theatre. Uneven a lot of other people in our profession where film is die ultimate goal, theatre is sacred to her. It’s notfall entertainment; the art.” ns couple operated together previously this year in an off-Broadway production von Turgenev’s A Month an the Country. “She’s very inspiring. She’s definitely ns artist von the family.” und he’s not? “I bei der just die TV actor who pays the bills.”

He zu sein paying die bills while working an TV’s gelb age. “Now zu sein a great time an TV because advertisers are notfall running cable. HBO, zum example, has actually complete artistic control. You kann sein swear, zeigen nudity, which zu sein nice, and what is most important zu sein that it offers writers permission zu do what they yes, really want to do.”

If I"d had actually a nice bank account when ich was 20, the damage i would have wreaked on myself and other people around me...Peter DinklageHe is bei demand on ns big display as well. He transforms down a lot of fantasy projects that the feels are too close kommen sie Thrones. “The last thing freundin want wie man you perform Game von Thrones zu sein to carry out something Game of Thrones-like. Ich do a really great version von that genre, so I nothing need zu do Beastmaster on mine time off.”

Dinklage has actually a number des studio pictures in the pipeline, including O’Lucky Day, an R-rated comedy around a con einer who tries kommen sie convince civilization he’s a leprechaun, while he deshalb has a supporting role bei the forthcoming Melissa McCarthy movie Michelle Darnell. An addition, that signed a address Sony Pictures and will star in two des their upcoming movies, voicing die role des Mighty Eagle, a one-time ornithological hero who’s really let self go, in in animation based on ns wildly well-known game upset Birds. But before that comes Pixels, bei which aliens strike using creatures indigenous iconic 1980s arcade equipments like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

The reviews from America, where Pixels opened late last month, have been weak, though Dinklage has attracted some praise zum his performance together a mullet-wearing previous arcade champion, Eddie, who zu sein recruited von the government kommen sie stave off the alien assault. “It was a very common look back in the 80s where i grew up in New Jersey,” that says of his character’s retro fashion sense. “You still see males like that. Sometimes people keep a fashion long after the dead. Eddie has die giant mullet und has a habit of taking ns sleeves off every little thing that he wears. I guess he’s insecure around the zurück of his neck, but notfall about his guns.”

Are his decisions to star bei these two films, which skew contempt younger, informed über his young family, ich wonder. His daughter might be able zu watch Angry Birds when it come out following year, or also Pixels, when presumably she does notfall even visit ns set von Thrones. “No, she go not,” the says. “I bei der so protective von everything that society has kommen sie offer, specifically if I am in it. Probably one day she’ll clock Thrones. She is ausblüten very young – she’s three – deshalb she is not walk to the cinema to lakers Pixels just yet.

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“She has actually been to ns cinema once und she lasted around half an hour.” What walk she see? “It was Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro, i beg your pardon we schutz now on DVD, und she zu sein satisfied. I think she was a little too young. Ich think Dada was projecting top top to herstellung because i love Miyazaki dafür much. Ich jumped die gun on that one.”

The family live in New York, where Dinklage can feel almost anonymous. “People seen actors at red-carpet events und think that applies zu my totality life, yet it yes, really doesn’t. Ich live an New York und I have a wenig place in the woods where i tend my garden. I like privacy und all this zu sein not mine thing. I’m notfall jetting off to another an elaborate place ~ this.”


Peter Dinklage bei his breakout performance in The station AgentStarring in Game des Thrones has actually of kurse tempered his anonymity, even in New York. “I would provide anything zu be an actor back in the day when people would seen you und go, ‘Oh, i wish i had a camera.’ jetzt everybody has actually a camera. Any kind of time who asks me, ‘I liebe your work, can I have a picture?’ ich will carry out it – but it’s ns sneaking von the photo ich don’t like.” that pauses, a wenig exasperated. “It’s hard wie man you schutz your son with you und you feel everyone zu sein just spying und not really living in the moment. Nothing is private any kind of more, particularly with ns younger generation. I feel choose they are recording every little thing they’re doing and sending it zu their friends. They’re creating on facebook everything lock had zum breakfast the morning. It’s like: ‘Who ns fuck cares?’”

He breaks into a smile and looks a little bashful. “It definitely ist a bourgeois belästigt because over there are civilization who work und have a viel harder time than i do. Yet it is a wenig strange und Game des Thrones has absolutely caused that. Wie you execute movies, human being stop and go, ‘Hey, no you in that thing i saw a few months ago?’ und you have to list her résumé. But with Game von Thrones that like, ‘My God, freundin were in my fucking life room last night!’”

How lang Tyrion wollen keep appearing bei our living rooms, only ns Game von Thrones creators know. Peter Dinklage, on ns other hand, will be around zum a lang time to come.