Posted on October 29th, 2014 by Eileen Dombrowski
Peter Dinklage is probably most well-known as Tyrion Lannister on the smash hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” However, what has always impressed me most about his work is his precision with choosing roles. Throughout his career, the four-foot-five actor has gone out of his way to choose roles that upend stereotypes about the parts usually offered to those his height — he says his role as Tyrion “does address the size issue, but it doesn’t knock you over the head with it. Because you don’t really need to.”
I first saw Dinklage in 2003 in the film “The Station Agent.” In the film, he plays Finn, a man who moves to rural New Jersey after his only friend dies. Finn wants to live in solitude, but he is befriended by two locals. One thing that I absolutely loved about the movie was that, while Finn’s disability is implied as the reason for his self-induced loneliness, as Dinklage said about his Game of Thrones role “It doesn’t knock you over the head with it.”
The befriending of Finn by the locals In “The Station Agent” does not feel like anything close to pity, either, and that’s something I’ve noticed in other films where a main character has a disability. In fact, Dinklage’s dwarfism is rarely spoken about in The Station Agent.
“Game of Thrones” takes an approach to disability that is similar to “The Station Agent.” Tyrion’s disability is spoken of negatively to a certain extent in “Game of Thrones” (it’s implied that it has negatively impacted his relationship with his family) but it by no means overshadows his character.
Dinklage has shared that he initially had concerns about accepting the role as Tyrion because “dwarves in these genres always have a certain look.” He said his guard was up until he realized the “Game of Thrones” role had “no beard, no pointy shoes” and was “a romantic, real human being.” Dinklage himself wasn’t always as comfortable with his disability as he is now – he says that as an adolescent he was bitter and angry, and that he put walls up around himself. “But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humor,” he says. “You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.”
This refreshing viewpoint shows in both his remarkable acting and in his choice of roles. I, for one, am extremely excited to see what Dinklage chooses next, and I know I’ll be following his career for many years to come.