‘Game of Thrones’: Peter Dinklage sees series challenges ahead

April 10, 2012 | 11:58 a.m.
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

HBO's "Game of Thrones" stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has the look of a conquering king right now — HBO has just renewed the series for a third season, just two weeks after the Season 2 opener earned glowing reviews and posted a gaudy 77% increase over last April’s series premiere. But one of the stars, Peter Dinklage, says any television success is a double-edged sword.

When asked what challenges lie ahead for the creators, cast and crew of “Game of Thrones,” the 42-year-old actor said he sees them coming from several directions, including the most passionate fans of the show.

Specifically, the newly minted Emmy and Golden Globe winner said he frets a bit about the relentless Internet drumbeat of fantasy fans who want the medieval epic to be more, well, epic.

“There’s so much pressure to, in terms of this genre, make it bigger,” Dinklage said. “There’s all this talk about, ‘We want more battles!’ and there’s so many fan sites. And the show is based on a very successful series of novels [by George R.R. Martin] and so there was so much anticipation for it — and so much pressure put on it. You can’t really listen to all of that if you’re going to be successful. It’s just too much to take in, too much to take on. You have to block all of that out and tell the really smart story that was told by George and not try to take on too much that takes the [priorities] in other directions.”

It’s hard to find many diehard fantasy fans who don’t love scale and sprawl — one of the defining hallmarks of epic fantasy is the immersive experience of visiting a place like Middle-earth, Narnia, Hogwarts or the Dark Tower, where things are not just strange and magical but also ancient and immense.

dinklage2 Game of Thrones: Peter Dinklage sees series challenges ahead

Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion Lannister in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

“Thrones” certainly nods to that, too, with plenty of time spent at the colossal landmark called the Wall, an 8,000-year barrier of ice at the grim northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. But Dinklage also knows that characters and the fascinating physics of family and power have made “Thrones” the must-see show that it is, which is why he’s leery of anything that would shift emphasis from words to wars. For that reason, Dinklage even sounds conflicted about HBO’s decision to add 15% to the “Thrones” production budget.

“I think more money can be very detrimental to movies and TV because things get solved economically rather than creatively and that’s never a good solution,” the New Jersey native said. “I think with a lot of filmmakers, their first film is their best film because they had to think on their feet and solve problems with ingenuity. The more money there is, too, the more cooks you have in the kitchen and suddenly you have 20 producers showing up on the set and you don’t know who they are or what they even do.”

Those are the experiences Dinklage brings in from his film work — his feature credits include “Elf,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “The Station Agent” — but he’s not hitting the fire alarm on “Thrones”: “Look, the way we just shot the second season and the way it went, I think we’re keeping the right things in mind. Things are going along swimmingly. I think though we always have to keep [the eagerness to expand]  in check.”

If Dinklage sounds as if he’s over-worrying, perhaps  it’s all the time he’s spent looking through the wary eyes of Tyrion Lannister. This season, the “Thrones” character has been gathering power (he was just appointed Hand of the King, making him chief adviser to cruel King Joffrey) but is losing sleep (there don’t seem to be many Hands who reach pension age). Dinklage portrays Tyrion with a sly, soulful nuance that cuts against the character’s cynical airs.

The second-season premiere of “Thrones” beat the Season 1 finale numbers by 30%, another reason to think these are sunny days in the Seven Kingdoms, but even Dinklage reminds viewers that, for every series, winter is coming at some point.

“With a lot of shows, what you’ll see happen is they start off really well and they’re very original, but they become sort of a version of themselves,” Dinklage said. “They stand outside the show … they become a cliche of the show they once were. That’s the whole ‘jumping the shark‘ thing.”

Well, “jousting the dragon” seems more likely but, again, Dinklage is talking about a distant distress, not any pressing anxiety. “We’re too young [as a series] to be even thinking about that [pitfall] … it’s up to the writers to give us good stories to tell and David Benioff and Dan Weiss are so good at that and I think they will continue to do great things. Knock on wood.”

— Geoff Boucher


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8 Responses to ‘Game of Thrones’: Peter Dinklage sees series challenges ahead

  1. stinkbug says:

    Having read all the books I think it is a dumb down version. There just isn't enough time for the very important character development. You really only get quick glimpses into what the books offered. Basically an impossible task. Or maybe if they had several seasons ahead garanteed they could slow down a bit and take more time for each element. Just not as thorough as I would have liked it.

  2. DeeT. says:

    I love this show! I can't wait for Joffrey to get his due!

  3. @celebeady says:

    I completly agree they should stick close to the books as possible…..thats what made the first season so successful

  4. Jon Hammer says:

    Getting away from Real story

  5. Johnny says:

    I think the series is great, I am up to date with the books and I think the series brings out the most interesting parts of the book and cuts the boring filler out. I love the series!

  6. michaeldunnfan says:

    I have never seen this show. Someone who knew of my late first cousin, Michael Dunn, showed me a magazine article about Peter Dinklage and asked me if I had seen him in the Game of Thrones, so I got online to check it out. I plan to watch the "Game of Thrones" at least once and if it doesn't have bad language, etc. I will become a regular. Michael Dunn played Alexander in the famous Star Trek episode titled Plato's Stepchildren. He is still well known for his role as Dr. Loveless in 10 episodes of the original Wild Wild West TV show. I think Peter may be a little like Michael Dunn. (From the author of The Big Life of a Little Man: Michael Dunn Remembered.)

  7. Lollerwaffle says:

    Bwahaha. If it doesnt have bad language? It's HBO, homie. Get ready for swearing, nudity, sex, violence, and even the occasional goat banging. This is a show for adults.

    Granted, it's a great show. Grown ups curse, they have sex, there is violence in times of war. I think it would really take away from the series if it were watered down and no one was allowed to say any no-no words beyond "damn" and "bullshit."

  8. Dinklage is the best thing about the show, just like Tyrion is the best thing about the books. Apparently he's also the only American actor who can even halfway pull off a UK accent (even if it does sound a bit bastardized).

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