• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano”

Peter Dinklage likes playing smart people. His entire career is a testament to that. His breakout role was in Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent in 2003, in which he acted opposite Bobby Cannavale. He has subsequently proved his talent across all genres, from the British comedy Death at a Funeral – as well as its US-remake – X Men: Days of Future Past. On television his work includes Entourage, Nip/Tuck, Life As We Know It and Threshold.
Game of Thrones for which he won the Golden Globe in 2012, turned him into a world-famous star, and when it ended, he was as saddened as the rest of the cast (and fans the world over). “It was pretty heartbreaking because it was a great role,” he told the HFPA. “It was a great show, but it was also our lives. I had children going to school over in Ireland. People met, married, and broke up on that show. It was nine years including the pilot. It wasn’t just the show, it was a life. And then, in the weird world of acting, the circus leaves town and it’s just bizarre. It’s a bizarre life.”
Dinklage, 52, was born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey. He graduated from Bennington College with a degree in drama and started his acting career on stage. His role in his very first film, Living in Oblivion, reflected his own life as an actor frustrated by the fact that the roles that are offered to actors who have dwarfism are no more than caricatures. He has avoided these pitfalls during his whole life and career, defying clichés and exceeding expectations.
The 2018 film I Think We’re Alone Now is very close to his heart. He nurtured the project and served as a producer as well. He also picked the director, Reed Morano, who was still in the process of making the transition from cinematographer: “I love working with female directors. Many female directors in my career. It was just meeting Reed and she was so inspiring at our first meeting. I saw the movie one way. She saw the movie that way too but also this way which was so much better than the way I saw it and I knew I was in such good hands. She’s a filmmaker who is a woman but she’s a brilliant filmmaker.”
That same year he also made My Dinner with Hervé and in 2020 I Care a Lot with Rosamund Pike. Soon after, he was off filming Cyrano, the film that earned him his current Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in Motion Picture Comedy. Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac has had 11 film adaptations starting as early as 1900 and including this one. The title character has been played by actors all over the world. José Ferrer won his one and only Golden Globe for it in 1951, Steve Martin did an over-the-top comedy version in 1987 and Kevin Kline morphed into the part in 2008. French star Gérard Depardieu almost did not need a prosthetic nose to play the role. In Dinklage’s case, there is a direct correlation between Tyrion Lannister and Cyrano de Bergerac in that they are both extremely intelligent characters who surprise others with capabilities no one expects them to have.
Dinklage’s wife, dramatist Erica Schmidt, wrote the play that turned into the screenplay, after they both did it as a theater production in New York, although at the time she did not have her husband in mind for the title role. In fact, he had to beg her for it. The character’s physical shortcoming in the original book – his oversized nose – here became his lack of height. For the actor, who always lived on the principle that he would never agree to play an elf or a leprechaun, Dinklage’s Cyrano was an inspired way to continue to avoid being pigeonholed and defined by his looks. Years before making the movie, he told the HFPA: “The tricky thing is, it’s all about a good script and who’s to say I have to play someone specifically written for my size because I think if you already see a part written for someone my size on Page One, that sort of gets redefined on every page, and that’s just bad writing to me. It’s uninteresting. So, I think what I try to do, or hope to do, is maybe break that convention in terms of roles I choose, but they don’t have to necessarily be written for someone my size because I think that fundamentally that cuts you off at the knees at Page One.” It’s a deadpan joke, but he continues more seriously: “I feel like, unfortunately, writers will limit the character just by doing that. It just doesn’t interest me if it’s not complex.”
Fun facts: the film was shot in Sicily during the pandemic, Mount Etna, the local volcano exploded while director Joe Wright was shooting a scene on top, and Dinklage, who was there with his family, found a stray puppy that they adopted and brought home with them. The puppy’s name is Roxy – fittingly named after his love-interest in the film, Roxanne.