Exclusive: Just because Peter Dinklage has appeared in an installment of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and won an Emmy for “Game of Thrones” does not automatically make him a fantasy fan — but he is headed to Fantasy Island, thanks to “My Dinner with Hervé.”
“I don’t gravitate towards fantasy,” Dinklage told The Playlist. “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.”
At four feet, five inches, Dinklage doesn’t want to play a 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,” he said. “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.”
So when Dinklage chooses a part, first and foremost, he’s looking for good writing. And he found the kind of meaty role he was searching for in the script for the indie film “My Dinner with Hervé,” in which he’ll play Hervé Villechaize — a.k.a. Tattoo on “Fantasy Island” — who spills his guts about his life and career to a reporter shortly before committing suicide. “He’s a beautifully complicated man,” Dinklage said.
Writer/director Sacha Gervasis — of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” fame — based the script on his own interview with Villechaize, which was originally intended for a magazine feature article. The interview is adversarial — the reporter doesn’t want to do the story in the first place, the subject makes him stay and hear all the painful parts of his life, including his mother’s rejection of him, his failed marriage, his ugly salary dispute battles with “Fantasy Island,” and his lifelong health problems.
“I met with Sacha, and we’ve been talking for a long time about it, and last year it became more of a reality,” Dinklage said, going on to confirm some recent casting. “We’ve got Dominic Cooper to play the other part [of the reporter], and we’re casting the rest of the parts as we speak, so everything’s starting to happen. Hopefully we’ll be shooting next year.”
Other parts would include characters such as Ricardo Montalbán, Aaron Spelling, and Gene Hackman, if stories relating to them are told in flashback. “That’s the question, whenever you do a movie about Hollywood,” Dinklage said. “Do you fill the present with the past? Do you have recognizable actors play these characters? I trust them to make the right decision.”
Dinklage has met with Cooper a few times about the project, but more to develop a bond than to discuss the particulars. “It’s ongoing. We haven’t pulled any knives on each other yet!” he joked, referring to how Villechaize kept Gervasis doing the interview longer than he intended. “Sometimes it’s tricky to just show up for the first day, so it’s good to have the time together first, and we’ll have more when we get into the project.”
Peter Dinklage can currently be seen in “Pete Smalls Is Dead,” out now on VOD and beginning a theatrical release in Los Angeles on November 11th.