Peter Dinklage Was Smart to Say No
Peter Hayden Dinklage is an American actor and producer. He received acclaim for portraying Tyrion Lannister on the HBO television series Game of Thrones from 2011 to 2019, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series a record four times.
In January, the actor Peter Dinklage surprised himself during his own Golden Globe acceptance speech.
Dinklage had won the award for best-supporting actor in a TV series for his portrayal of the complex, sharp-tongued Tyrion Lannister, who’s the closest thing to a hero in HBO’s epic swords-and-sex hit “Game of Thrones,” which returns for its second season on April 1.
As he took the statue from the presenter, Piper Perabo, the onstage microphone stand quietly lowered into the floor to accommodate the 4-foot-5 actor.
Dinklage thanked the people he needed to thank — the author George R. R. Martin, who wrote the novels on which “Game of Thrones” is based; his mother in New Jersey; the cast and crew.
As the wrap-it-up music began to swell, Dinklage thought about what his wife had been telling him all night at their table: “Let people know.
It isn’t right.” He hesitated a moment, then thought, I’m just gonna do it. “I want to mention a gentleman I’ve been thinking about, in England,” he said quickly. “His name is Martin Henderson. Google him.”
A month later, during breakfast at the Trump SoHo hotel in Manhattan, Dinklage still seemed a bit uncomfortable with the attention his off-the-cuff comment received. “I read about him online the day before the Globes. It really made me sad. I don’t know why.” He corrected himself: “I mean, I know why: it’s terrible.”
In October, Henderson, who is 37 and is 4-foot-2, was picked up and thrown by an unknown assailant in Somerset, England. He suffered partial paralysis and now requires a walker.
The night of the Globes, after Dinklage’s mention, Henderson’s name was a trending topic on Twitter. Dinklage later turned down offers to discuss the case with Anderson Cooper and other news hosts.
“People are all, like, I dedicated it to him,” he said. “They’ve made it more romantic than it actually was. I just wanted to go, ‘This is screwed up.’ Dwarves are still the butt of jokes.
It’s one of the last bastions of acceptable prejudice. Not just by people who’ve had too much to drink in England and want to throw a person. But by media, everything.”
He sipped his coffee and pointed out that media portrayal is, in part, the fault of actors who are dwarves. “You can say no. You can not be the object of ridicule.”In many ways, Dinklage’s own story is unsurprising: an actor who flailed for years worked steadily for some more years, then got a great role and became famous.
The part of Tyrion Lannister has now won Dinklage that Globe, an Emmy, and an army of new fans who never saw him in “Living in Oblivion,” onstage in “Richard III” or even in his breakout film, “The Station Agent,” in 2003.
Yet Dinklage’s sudden stardom offers a pleasurable meritocratic twist to his career, given that the entertainment industry doesn’t typically reward those who turn down roles on principle, much fewer actors who don’t meet a certain physical ideal. Sure, James Gandolfini struggled before “The Sopranos” made him an unlikely leading man.
But James Gandolfini didn’t eat potato chips for dinner every night because he conscientiously objected to playing one of Santa’s elves in Kmart ads.
Dinklage recently moved away from New York, the city he called home for most of the past 20 years — first in Williamsburg and then in the West Village. The city was making him feel older than his 42 years. “Just all the clawing for space,” he said. “I felt myself becoming a bitter old man in New York, and I wanted to avoid that.”
So he has settled into a house in the woods in upstate New York with his wife, the theater director Erica Schmidt, and their baby daughter. But just 10 days after moving, Dinklage was back in Brooklyn, playing a “bitchy barista” in “A Case of You,” a small-budget romantic comedy written by his friend, the actor (and “I’m a Mac” pitchman) Justin Long.
“This is the first time,” Dinklage marveled, “I’ve ever stayed in a hotel in New York.” Why come back to the city so soon for a small role in an indie film? It’s simple, he said. “When our friends call us to be in their movies, we show up.”
Peter Dinklage: Award Acceptance Speech: 26th Annual SAG Awards | TNT
Peter Dinklage receives the Actor® for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for his performance as TYRION LANNISTER in GAME OF THRONES.
About the Annual SAG Awards: Lauded by critics for its style, simplicity and genuine warmth, the Screen Actors Guild Awards ® presented by SAG-AFTRA, which made its debut in 1995, has become one of the industry’s most prized honors.
The only televised awards show to exclusively honor performers, it presents thirteen awards for acting in film and television in a fast-moving two-hour show which airs live on TNT and TBS. The awards focus on both individual performances as well as on the work of the entire ensemble of a drama series and comedy series, and the cast of a motion picture.
These honors are fundamental to the spirit of the Screen Actors Guild Awards ® because they recognize what all actors know – that acting is a collaborative art. About TNT: TNT is basic cable’s #1 network in primetime with young adults and is home to one of cable’s most popular slates of original series, including The Alienist, Animal Kingdom, Claws, and the upcoming I Am the Night and Snowpiercer.
TNT also presents popular shows such as Arrow, Supernatural, Bones, and Castle; primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards® and the iHeartRadio Music Awards; and championship sports coverage, including the NBA and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
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