Peter Dinklage is never far from the spotlight, and with the release of the new Hunger Games movie, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the actor is once again proving his pedigree on the big screen. But, Game of Thrones still remains his finest hour, and the actor will always be iconic for bringing the beloved Tyrion Lannister to life.
But Dinklage’s role in Game of Thrones wasn’t necessarily a certainty, as the actor had a number of conditions that he ensured would be met before he accepted a part in the Game of Thrones cast. Primarily, these related to how Tyrion Lannister would be visually portrayed in the series, and Dinklage absolutely refused to be given either a beard or pointy shoes.
“Dwarves in these genres always have this look,” he said to the New York Times, explaining the logic behind his request. “My guard was up. Not even my guard — my metal fence, my barbed wire was up. Even Lord of the Rings had dwarf-tossing jokes in it. It’s like, ‘Really?’” The specificity of Dinklage’s request, meanwhile, was down to his role in the Narnia movie Prince Caspian (not the best fantasy movie in the series, it must be said) in which he’d been dressed in exactly that.
“It was a lovely experience,” he explained, referring to the film “but it was pretty uncomfortable.”
Naturally, then, Dinkage was determined not to go through the same experience on Thrones, which became one of the best TV series of its era while it was at its peak. What eventually alleviated his fears was discovering that his Game of Thrones character would be much, much more than a stereotype. “He’s somebody who turns [the stereotype] on its head. No beard, no pointy shoes, a romantic, real human being,” he concluded.
That sense of being a ‘real human being’ (complex and flawed) is part of what made Tyrion a fan-favorite long before George RR Martin’s story ever came to the screen.
Even while the members of the Lannister family were just words on a page, Tyrion’s journey throughout Westeros was latched onto by fans as being one of the most captivating elements of the story, as this intensely clever and charismatic character — rejected by his family and the world around him — attempted to navigate the brutal war between his family and the Starks.
It’s for that reason that we love Tyrion, and Dinklage’s portrayal of him is spot-on (even if he should have had his nose chopped off). The fact House of the Dragon, the prequel series, lacks any characters quite like Tyrion is to its detriment. While the show is brilliant (one of the best fantasy series around today, certainly) it hasn’t quite yet managed to create a character as self-contradictory and fascinating as Dinklage’s.
However, with House of the Dragon season 2 flying over the horizon, there’s still a chance that it could surprise us. It’s a small chance, but a chance nonetheless.
For more on Westeros, check out our guide to the Targaryen family tree, and learn about the best House of the Dragon characters and the House of the Dragon cast. Or, for Dinklage’s latest, read our Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review.