One of the most detailed and intriguing fantasy worlds I have ever journeyed to was created by George R. R. Martin. A Song of Ice and Fire series covers an entire world from the cold harsh iced lands of the north to the hot sands of the southwest across the sea. The cultures and religions are as varied as the landscape. In Westeros, there are those who believe in the Old Gods, those portrayed by carved faces in ancient trees, and the new, with more human looks and attributes. One of the main characters in the series is Tyrion Lannister. Because of his Dwarfism the powerful and wealthy Lannister family treats him as an outcast. He is able to survive because of his wits, family lineage, and strong sense of self.
“Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister From the novel Game of Thrones.
I first saw Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent. I was impressed that an actor of short stature hadn’t been type cast as a buffoon such as Verne Troyer as “Mini-Me” in the second and third Austin Powers movies. I later saw him in the short lived scifi series Threshold as the math genius Arthur. When I heard HBO was making Game of Thrones, the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, as a television series, I wanted them to cast Peter as Tyrion. Arthur (Threshold) and Tyrion are both witty men who indulge in women and drink. Peter is able to apply his voice, facial expressions, and gestures to bring out depth in his characters (more so as Tyrion) so the audience doesn’t see just a drunkard or craven but a man in pain and despair who manages to turn that sense of defeat into grim humor and an unyielding will to survive. That survival includes major battles against hundreds even thousands of sword wielding opponents on horseback.
At the July 21, 2011 San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones Panel, Peter Dinklage said it was terrifying to fill the role as the series most well loved character. YouTube Perhaps personal experience coping with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, has helped Peter develop his characters. “When I was younger, definitely, I let it get to me. As an adolescent, I was bitter and angry and I definitely put up these walls. But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humour. You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.” (IMDb)
I love how he thanks his dog sitter. The audience chuckles but finding a good sitter is just as serious for pet lovers as people with children. Peter is also a vegetarian and in this PETA video you see him with his dog.
Disabled characters on TV are often played by able bodied actors, such as John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) of Lost or Arty Abrams (Kevin McHale) of Glee. It’s wonderful to see an actor with a disability portraying a character with a disability even if it takes place in a fantasy world.