Peter Dinklage has slapped back accusations of ‘white-washing’ in the forthcoming HBO biopic movie about Fantasy Island and Bond movie star Hervé Villechaize.
The Game of Thrones star plays Villechaize in My Dinner With Hervé, penned and directed by Sacha Gervasi, who personally spent three days interviewing Villechaize when he was a young journalist in the early 90s.
Following the casting of Dinklage, there was some criticism that a white actor had been cast in the role, backed by claims that Villechaize was reputedly ‘half-French, half-Filipino’.
But the actor has some rather compelling insight to combat his critics.
“The internet is the best thing and the worst thing,” Dinklage said in a rare interview, conducted with Entertainment Weekly.
“The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover. Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly. It says [Villechiaze was half-Filipino] on Wikipedia. Family members can’t change information on there. My daughter’s name was ‘Zelig’ on Wikipedia for a long time. Her name is not Zelig. I don’t know who is able to put information up, but there are so many things on there that aren’t true.
“There’s this term ‘whitewashing.’ I completely understand that. But Hervé wasn’t Filipino. Dwarfism manifests physically in many different ways. I have a very different type of dwarfism than Hervé had. I’ve met his brother and other members of his family.
“He was French, and of German and English descent. So it’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information. I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or sense of justice because I feel the exact same way when there’s some weird racial profile. But these people think they’re doing the right thing politically and morally and it’s actually getting flipped because what they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone.
“He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff. This [movie] isn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Personally, I would never do that, and I haven’t done that, because he wasn’t. People are jumping to conclusions based on a man’s appearance alone and that saddens me.
“Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too. But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, ‘Okay, calm down.’”
Tragically, Villechaize took his own life in 1993, just days after his interview with Gervasi.
The interview has previously been described as ‘his suicide note’.
The movie, which also stars Jamie Dornan, Andy Garcia and Oona Chaplin, airs on HBO on October 20.