Who Is Peter Dinklage?
Born in 1969, actor Peter Dinklage grew up in Morristown, New Jersey. He moved to New York City in 1991 to work in theater. In 1995 Dinklage made his film debut in Living in Oblivion. His next major career breakthrough came with 2003's The Station Agent. Dinklage continued to win over critics with his performance in the television series Game of Thrones, winning Emmys for his role of Tyrion Lannister in 2011, 2015 and 2018.
Early Life and Genetic Condition
Actor Peter Dinklage has captivated film, television and theater audiences with his expressive blue eyes, powerful presence, wit and charm. The Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner discovered a passion for performing while growing up in Morristown, New Jersey.
Born to average-sized parents, Dinklage learned early on that he had achondroplasia, a genetic condition that affects bone growth. A person with this form of dwarfism usually has a normal-sized head and torso but short limbs. While he has come to accept his condition, Dinklage found it challenging sometimes while growing up. “As an adolescent, I was bitter and angry, and I definitely put up these walls," he told MSNBC. "But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humor. You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs."
Dinklage got his first taste of theatrical success in a fifth grade production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Playing the lead, he was delighted by the audience's response to the show. "When you get your first solo bow, that feels pretty good," he explained to People magazine. At the Delbarton School, a Catholic prep school for boys, Dinklage continued to seek out applause as part of the drama club.
As a student at Bennington College, Dinklage appeared in numerous productions. He graduated in 1991 and then moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. With a friend, Dinklage started a theater group in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. While this initial venture flopped, he landed some work in off-Broadway shows.
Film, TV and Theater
'Living in Oblivion,' 'The Killing Act,' 'The Station Agent'
While he had only a minor role, Dinklage made an impressive debut in the 1995 parody of the independent film world, Living in Oblivion. He played a dwarf hired for a dream sequence who goes off on the film's director (Steve Buscemi). The following year Dinklage landed a role in an off-Broadway play, The Killing Act, written by Tom McCarthy. He played an "over-the-top" Tom Thumb in the show.
Dinklage and McCarthy reunited for the hit independent drama The Station Agent (2003). In the film, he played a lonely, train-obsessed man who inherits a rundown train depot. His character befriends a chatty food cart vendor (Bobby Cannavale) and becomes involved with a reclusive artist (Patricia Clarkson), who has suffered the loss of her child and is long separated from her husband. The film received a warm welcome at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was bought by Miramax. Dinklage's performance also enthralled critics, with one heralding his work as "warm, heartbreaking and hilarious."
'Richard III,' 'Theater of the New Ear,' 'Nip/Tuck'
In 2004 Dinklage played one of his dream roles—Shakespeare's Richard III—at the Public Theater. He also appeared in the London production of Charlie Kaufman's Theater of the New Ear with Meryl Streep and Hope Davis the following year. Also around this time, Dinklage made a number of memorable television appearances. He had a recurring roles on the teenage dramatic comedy Life As We Know It and on the drama Nip/Tuck as a male nanny and love interest for Joely Richardson's character.
Playing Tyrion Lannister in 'Game of Thrones'
Dinklage's most significant television work, however, came in 2011 with the premiere of Game of Thrones. In the series based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels, he played Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf of noble birth. His character learns to survive by his wits, not brawn, in a land torn apart by competing dynasties seeking power over the kingdoms of Westeros.
For his portrayal of a "good bad guy," Dinklage won Emmy Awards in 2011, 2015 and 2018 and a Golden Globe in 2012. He was very enthusiastic about the series, telling reporters after his Golden Globe win that the show had a "smart narrative." "You've got to push the envelope and challenge expectations and ideas of what's going to happen next," he said. "That adds to the addiction of the show—you never know what's around the corner."
'X-Men,' 'Avengers,' 'My Dinner with Hervé'
His profile boosted by his Game of Thrones exposure, Dinklage enjoyed more screen opportunities in the years to come. That included appearances in blockbusters like X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), as well as a featured role in HBO's My Dinner with Hervé (2018), about dwarf actor Hervé Villechaize of Fantasy Island fame. Dinklage also continued his work on stage, starring in an off-Broadway production of Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country in 2015.
Dinklage is married to theater director Erica Schmidt. The couple has two children together.
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