While he had been turning in stellar work for years, Game of Thrones served as the world’s major introduction to Peter Dinklage, and for that, we will be forever grateful. After eventually revealing himself to be one of the noblest men in Westeros, Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister is a fan favorite, which on that show means that everyone is constantly fearing for his life. While there are absolutely no guarantees on Game of Thrones, Tyrion seems like he could be one to make it to the end, and that something great would be lost if he left. Whether that will be the case remains to be seen, but Dinklage has put in stellar work over the course of five seasons, bringing one of author George R.R. Martin’s best characters to vivid life.
While most associate him the most strongly with Tyrion, there is way more to Dinklage than Game of Thrones. While he is a really private guy, the glimpses that fans have gotten into his life show one who has lived much and lived well. Let’s take a look at some facts about Peter Dinklage.
You Probably Heard Him Before You Saw Him
Before he was one of the craftiest men in Westeros, Dinklage was the sexy voiced wake-up guy named James who caught Elaine’s attention on Seinfeld.
He Knows The “Starving Artist” Struggle
When he was living in New York, looking to start his acting career, Dinklage lived with his roommate in an tiny, unheated apartment in Brooklyn that was so close to the train tracks that it would rumble day and night. He told the New York Times about the experience, saying that the place was so rough that the landlord pulled a knife on them at one point. Eventually, the roommates got a cat for the sole purpose of hunting down the rats that infested their apartment. After they moved out and went their separate ways, Dinklage was stuck with the cat. For 10 years.
He’s As Punk Rock As You Think
While the hilarious Game of Thrones musical gave viewers a taste of Dinklage’s musical abilities, he actually used to be in a punk band called Whizzy in the ’90s. The band even played at the iconic CBGB. He spoke to Playboy about the experience:
“I was in a band called Whizzy for many years in New York. We were this punk-funk-rap band. We played a show at CBGB, and I was jumping around onstage and got accidentally kneed in the temple. I was like Sid Vicious, just bleeding all over the stage. Blood was going everywhere. I just grabbed a dirty bar napkin and dabbed my head and went on with the show. We didn’t care much at the time about personal safety. We were smoking and drinking during our shows, and one time my bass player fell off the back of his amp because he passed out. It was one of those bands.”
He Has Played The Exact Same Role In Two Different Movies
Death at a Funeral is a hilariously dark British comedy about the mayhem that a dead man leaves behind for his family, and Dinklage plays the deceased patriarch’s gay lover who is trying to extort the family for money. Dinklage was so utterly hilarious in the role that when Chris Rock did an American remake of the film in 2010, he was brought back for the same role again. His name was changed from Peter to Frank, and Dinklage was once again the best part of the film.
He’s A Vegetarian
While he may have initially become a vegetarian at 16 to impress a girl, Dinklage eventually became very serious about it, and is to this day involved with PETA and is a campaigner for animal rights. On top of his work with PETA, Dinklage is a spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary, which works for the ethical treatment of farm animals.
He’s The Only American On Game Of Thrones
While all of his co-stars are European, and most of the Westerosi accents are vaguely British, Dinklage is the only American in the cast. However, he was George R.R. Martin’s first choice to play Tyrion. After five Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win, it’s clear that Dinklage was the right man for the job.
He Refuses To Take Roles That Exploit His Height
While it would have been easy for Dinklage to settle into roles of leprechauns and other offensive portrayals of dwarfs, he has made it a point in his career to avoid roles that mocked his height. He told Playboy that he “came to terms with using my size rather than being exploited by it.” He explained to the New York Times that it was a sensitive thing, and that each individual has to make the choice for themselves:
“Everyone’s different. Every person my size has a different life, a different history. Different ways of dealing with it. Just because I’m seemingly O.K. with it, I can’t preach how to be O.K. with it. I don’t think I still am O.K. with it. There’s days when I’m not.”
He Grew Up In New Jersey, So Of Course He Knows Bruce… Sorta
Dinklage was born in Bay Head, N.J., and, as a young boy, his family lived next door to Bruce Springsteen’s manager. Not only that, but his parents know the man himself.
“Bruce used to come over to his house and hang out and play guitar. This was when I was 2, so I don’t remember any of it. My mom and dad went to a wedding at a surfboard factory, and Bruce was in the wedding band. He was about 17 years old at the time. My mom didn’t think he was that great. She told me he was too loud.”
He Is Even Less Of A Fighter Than Tyrion
Tyrion Lannister prefers to use his wits as a weapon instead of a sword, and Dinklage is the same way. While many actors enjoy the swordfighting aspect of many roles, Dinklage is not one of them. He told Playboy that the fight scenes aren’t as awesome in reality as they seem.
“There’s a scene in the show when I chop a man’s leg off from behind. The gentleman was probably about 70 years old. They filmed him from the back, so you don’t see how old he is. Also he’s an amputee. He had one leg, so basically I just knocked out the fake leg. I had a big dull sword, and I knocked a wooden leg off an amputee who was 70 years old. So to answer your question, no, I don’t feel like a badass. The fight scenes are all a big lie. The whole time, you’re trying not to get hit in the eye with a sword, and you wish you had on a welding helmet.”
He And His Brother Used To Do Puppet Shows In Their Neighborhood
However, because this is Peter Dinklage, the puppet shows were a bit more awesome than you would expect. He told Playboy about their antics:
“Everybody in the neighborhood would come over and watch my brother and me do puppet shows. We basically did little puppet musicals with the loudest songs we could find. We did a puppet version of Quadrophenia, the Who album. We made drum kits out of tuna fish cans. It was fun.”