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Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage Says He Never Liked How Fantasy Depicted Dwarves

Emmy Award winner Peter Dinklage has garnered a lot of fame thanks to his role in the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones so it’s curious to find out the actor has an aversion to the genre because of how it’s depicted dwarves in its long history. Though technically, he doesn’t consider Game of Thrones fantasy. Hmm, we’ll give you the first, sir but I will argue your second opinion to the death. 

Dinklage spoke with The Playlist recently saying, ”I don’t gravitate towards fantasy. I do have a deeper appreciation for it because of Game of Thrones, but I never really was attracted to fantasy because of how most writers depict people my size.”

The actor plays the dwarf Tyrion Lannister in the hit HBO show and took on the role of Trumpkin in the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. but says he doesn’t want to play the dwarf stereotype.

I try not to read too much into it, but there’s a bit of a bias, where you’re thought of as a mystical creature, which is a bit absurd. I have a great sense of humor — and a dark sense of humor — about everything, but it is a bit narrow-minded sometimes, where if they have a dwarf character, the shoes have to curl up at the end, he has this inherent wisdom, he isn’t sexual, all of that. You look at something like Snow White, and each of the dwarves is just one thing — this one sneezes, this one is angry, this one is tired. And that’s sometimes still true for modern-day stories. But it’s not just for dwarves, that could be the case for anybody, for women, for people of color. Right now it’s Middle Eastern people who are all playing terrorists. It’s short-sighted. But life is too short — no pun intended — to be interested in roles that haven’t got any meat to them.

Dinklage will continue his Emmy-winning role on Game of Thrones for season two in which he gets lots of sex and wears perfectly normal footwear and can next be seen depicting Hervé Villechaize (Tattoo from Fantasy Island) in the indie film My Dinner with Hervé, based on true events.

(via Blastr)

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  • Shelley Adrienne Mimi Belsky

    Peter, if you REALLY want to blow stereotypes away, do Chesbro’s “Mongo” books as you originally planned.

  • GloriaMorfin


  • Emma Jones

    One if the reasons I really like Game of Thrones is because of they way they portray the dwarf (I forget the character’s name offhand). He is extremely human, which I like, and he’s a likable character, with flaws like everyone else in the series. He isn’t seen as some other sort of creature. In many other movies, they are made out to be some sort of gimmick, sort of like a circus show.

    30 Rock has a good episode (same actor, I believe), where it borders on this, but also brings out the ridiculous aspect of the gimmicky idea.

  • Anonymous

    He has a point, though. Most dwarves are depicted as practically asexual in my experience. Which is ridiculous because between “Nip/Tuck” and “Game of Thrones” Dinklage is on his way to becoming something of a sex symbol himself.

  • Anonymous

    It was Dinklage in that episode (I didn’t know he was going to be in an episode so when he turned around I flipped out). And that episode was kind of amazing.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    I’ll respect his opinion more if he stops playing parts that he finds vaguely offensive…

  • Chris Stephens

    Wait… WHAT?! The fantasy genre was birthed by Tolkien. This guy is describing Elves. Elves and Dwarves are different. Gimli is a dwarf. Proud warrior, miner, had a manly beard, does very brutish things, lives on impulse, not very quick whited (at least compared to elves). Throughout most of the Fantasy genre Dwarves are seen as an ancient race that generally live in deep mines with great halls. They are VERY sexual and very brutish. I have no idea where this is coming from. He is confusing elves and dwarves (with exception of his snow white reference but that was DISNEY).

  • Anonymous

    I’d respect Hollywood more if they’d stop WRITING parts that are vaguely offensive…

    You have to admit, he doesn’t have a whole lot of parts to choose from. I think his point is that he doesn’t want to be stereotyped into the traditionally gimmicky roles usually written for Little People, but that doesn’t mean that there’s an abundance of roles on the other side that he’s just ignoring.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, the fantasy genre gets its roots from plenty of older sources. The Arthurian epics, Beowulf, Gaelic folk stories and traditions, romantic poetry… the list goes on. Yes, Tolkien was one of the earliest MODERN fantasy writers, but he was by no means the Father of All Fantasy. His contemporary was C.S. Lewis, who wrote fantasy as well, just in a different form. (That said, don’t get me wrong, I adore Tolkien, but just saying.) 

    Remember, we’re not talking about BOOKS. This is film. I think what Dinklage is referring to is the Hollywood/Mainstream Media vision of dwarfs, the ones that whitewash unusual bodies into asexual, “funny” stereotypes (which are seriously not that funny). The depictions of atypical body types is VASTLY different between print media and film. There’s a huge white-washing of unusual bodies from film/tv media. Even on book covers, characters are whitewashed to look sometimes nothing like who the character actually is inside the story. And when you can’t do that, then they’re usually stripped of their sexual/real-person status and made into a background comic-relief character. 

    Especially with Little People, who are almost never shown as sexual, serious people in media. Despite representing dwarfs and hobbits, that the actual actors in LOTR’s were all normal sized people in real life, so giving them sex appeal and serious mien wasn’t unusual for Hollywood because they’re not /really/ Little People. But roles actually played by LP? Tyrion is a HIGHLY unusual role for film media. Dinklage isn’t confusing anything, he knows exactly what most film fantasy roles have to offer LP, and they ARE usually borderline (or crossing into) offensive.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Mainsteam Media:

    I love this actor, and I’d like to see him in more roles. Especially more roles like Tyrion. Please to be writing more of them, like now. No, seriously, /now/.

    - Me

  • sam n

    “The actor plays the dwarf Tyrion Lannister in the hit HBO…..”

  • Anonymous

  • Jake Wall

    I can see where he is coming from but there is an issue with his reasoning.There is a difference between a Human Dwarf such as Tyrion in which he is simply a normal human with a rare set of chromosomes, and a Fantasy Dwarf such as Gimli from Lord of the Rings who is a member of an entirely different species.Tyrion is human with human parents and was raised as a human, accordingly he of course has all the characteristics of being human.Gimli is dwarven with dwarven parents and was raised as a dwarf, as such he has all the characteristics of being a dwarf

  • Gytis Valatka

    When people see him, do they get excited and chase him and try to pinch his beard so that would grant them wishes? :D (just to make sure, that’s a lighthearted joke, no offense)

  • Idle Primate

    Dinklage is the very best thing about HBO’s Game of Thrones.  I hope he keeps playing a more prominent role.

    He seems to have done a lot of interesting roles in film and television.  I would argue that he may be doing the most  to break the stereotypes that he is weary of.  he’s a tremendously powerful actor with an awful lot of range and screen-holding charisma.

  • Judanne Simpson

    His character’s name is Tyrion Lannister and he’s one of the best-written characters in the books; I really like how his sense of humour has been depicted.  My next favourite character is Arya.

  • Judanne Simpson

    Except in this incarnation (Game of Thrones) he’s not that kind of dwarf.  He’s the human kind you’d meet in the street, born of a normal man and woman, who just happen to be royalty and so he just happens to be a prince of short stature.

  • Anonymous

  • Anna B

    Drinklage is one of my favorite actors to come out of an HBO series and I’d absolutely watch a movie just because he was in it.  I think that’s how he’s breaking little people stereotypes, where he doesn’t have to play second fiddle to anyone. I believe he can carry a film all his own. I certainly relish every scene he is in in The Game of Thrones.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I mean… Tyrion Lannister isn’t even a regular little person like Peter Dinklage or Warwick Davis. He’s deformed. He’s got uneven eyes, a bulging head, and a hunched back.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Remember, we’re not talking about BOOKS. This is film.”

    Well, technically it’s television (or rather, HBO).

  • Frodo Baggins

    Suuuuuuure it ain’t fantasy, Pete. All those dragons and undead warriors and seers and sorcerers and made-up continents and civilizations are just, uh, magical realism! Like Ingmar Bergman!

  • Siveambrai

    Well. He can play a role he finds offensive slightly and use his platform to raise his criticisms of the field.

    Or he can do what you want and shut up altogheter. Ensuring that people like him are NEVER represented in media and don’t have any chances to take a spotlight and speak for change.

    Is it a shitty thing that he has only limited roles? Hell yea. But if no one took those roles they would eventually dry up and the people they represent would be whitewashed out of our media reality. Or even worse… they’d be given to people who are not different but are simply digitally altered to fit the role (ala Jackson’s hobbits).

  • Siveambrai

    If you saw the movie(s) “Death at a Funeral” he played a very sexual dwarf in both versions of the film albeit a more comedic take and was fantastic.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson


    If he believes that strongly in the Principal he should follow through and not take the roll.  To do anything else would be hypocrisy. 

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    did I say I wanted him to shut up?

    I’m saying it’s hypocritical of him to complain about parts he’s taking and making a profit off of.  I would say this if he was black, gay, Indian, lesbian, Jewish.. whatever.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    I’m assuming you’re being a troll there, but that’s what dwarfism is.

  • Angel H.

    No, to do anything else would be to go hungry. If an actor doesn’t act, the actor doesn’t eat.

    I don’t blame the actors for playing offensive roles; I blame the ones who typecast them into those roles. “Need a Christmas elf? Find a little person” “Need a thug? Find a Black guy.” “Need a terrorist? Find an Arab actor (or someone who could pass for Arab).” Playing for the role of the stereotype may not be creatively fulfilling, but it’s better than the alternative.

    It’s like Hattie McDaniel said, “I’d rather play a maid than be one.”

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    Right, because if they didn’t take the offensive rolls they wouldn’t be put in production.

    I’m not saying he has no right not to like it, Hell I can understand the displeasure of being typecast 100% being bisexual.

    I’m just saying he’s a hypocrite for complaining about rolls he chooses to take.

  • Kimberly

    I don’t think he’s complaining about the roles he’s taking, because the roles he’s played so far don’t fit within the stereotypes he says he dislikes. I think that’s why he picked those in particular.

    GoT’s role was played out the same as the rest of the cast, and so was PC’s.

    I’m not sure where it says he’s upset about being typecast as bisexual? In fact I think he was upset about dwarves being portrayed as asexual..

  • Angel H.

    Right, because if they didn’t take the offensive rolls they wouldn’t be put in production.

    Wrong. They would just go the even more offensive route – Racebend/fat suit/ugly makeup/etc.

    You are greatly overestimating the bargaining power that marginalized bodies have in Hollywood. Also, very few people (even those who fit the “mainstream” ideal in Hollywood or anywhere else) have the privilege of picking and choosing whatever jobs they want that will fulfill them 100%. It’s not hypocritical to take job you don’t like or to play a role you hate; it’s survival.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Yeah, and I’m saying Tyrion Lannister as he is described in the book doesn’t just have growth-hormone deficiency or achondroplasia, he’s asymmetrical and his torso is twisted. Peter Dinklage doesn’t look like that.

  • Frodo Baggins

    It would be one thing if you were complaining about Katherine Heigl taking a part in The Ugly Truth after calling Knocked Up sexist. But Peter Dinklage didn’t (and even now probably doesn’t) have the clout or star power to be picky about his projects. His choices are to take roles he might find degrading sometimes, or to not work.

  • amber loranger

    I’ll admit, when I first saw Drinklage cast as Tyrion I was a bit disappointed, because he’s too good looking in my opinion, but he plays the character so spot on that I got over it immediately. And Tyrion is definitely my favorite character in the books and the movies… with Arya second, and a third character third I won’t mention because my fondness of them is kinda spoilerish.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    And the show has the blessing of the author.

    I think that trumps your disapproval.

  • Frodo Baggins

    What disapproval? I don’t take issue with Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion. He did a fantastic job, and quickly became my favorite character, just as he was in the book. I’m merely pointing out how a uniquely deformed human character is unrelated to the portrayal of dwarves in other fantasy stories, and of most real little people in regular fiction.

  • Jen

    Well, yeah, but that raises a whole different set of issues, like the conception of little people as this race of fantastical beings, which is what Dinklage is talking about. I know Gimli is different than Tyrion but the lord of the rings concept of dwarves is somewhat based on the idea of them in real life. That’s why it’s refreshing to see a dwarf in a fantasy series who is just a human, not a different race.

  • Jen

    I don’t actually think it matters how good looking he is. The point is that Tyrion is a dwarf. It’s not necessarily that he’s ugly, it’s that he doesn’t look “normal”.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    Becuase there is nothing else he could do with his life? Ever?

    He’s probably making more money than either of us and bitching about it. Nobody holds a gun to his head, so I feel little sympathy, no pun intended.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    I’m saying I know what it’s like to be lumped into a category because I, myself, am bisexual. And I’ve had a gay man outright tell me “Ben, you’re not bi, you’re just gay and don’t know it.”

  • Anonymous

    I had the same reaction you did. For other characters, casting someone traditionally beautiful would have been a cop-out (i.e. Brienne) so I was skeptical. But his acting skill certainly makes up for his unfortunate good looks. :)