Peter Dinklage NPR Interview

Peter Dinklage was interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered about playing Tyrion Lannister and Game of Thrones. 

On his initial reservation about starring in a fantasy series:

I hadn’t read the books, so I wasn’t too familiar with it, but I knew David Benioff and Dan Weiss and they sort of set me straight about this character, because I had some severe reservations about going into the realm of fantasy.
DINKLAGE: I don’t know. My own silly prejudice, I guess, against the genre in terms of someone my height. Usually it’s a bit – how do I say this politely without offending anybody else’s work in amazing things? It’s bearded and pointy-shoed. And this character, Tyrion Lannister, isn’t that way at all.

On the emphasis, or non-emphasis, of Tyrion’s physicality:

DINKLAGE: Well, I don’t have a problem playing those characters as long as it’s told intelligently. It would be stupid if he wasn’t addressed as an imp or something in this world, given the surroundings. It does address the size issue, but it doesn’t knock you over the head with it, because you don’t really need to. And I find all the scripts that I get that I’m not very interested in, it’s a constant reminder, every single page. Almost every single line is geared towards your height. And I just, in my day-to-day life, and any person who is my size’s day-to-day life, it happens, but it’s not a constant.

Listen to / download the full interview here:

“Creating love is not for the soft and sentimental among us; love is a tough business.”

Listening to a an old episode of This American Life (#317 – Unconditional Love). One of the stories is about a couple, Heidi and Rick, who adopted a seven-year-old boy, Daniel, from an orphanage in Romania. Because of the terrible condition Daniel faced during his time in the orphanage, and the lack of affection and physical contact with the the adults taking care of him there, Daniel developed a condition known as “attachment disorder”. At one point, he started to believe that Rick and Heidi were his biological parents, and began hating and resenting them for leaving him at the orphanage for seven years before taking him home. The belief persisted for a while, even after Rick and Heidi exlained to him over and over again the difference between biological parents and adoptive parents.  It’s a heartbreaking story, for the boy, for the parents, although it has a happy ending. What struck me most is the mother’s completely unsentimental perspective about the whole thing.

The question of whether or not it’s possible to teach love is not an academic one. There are plenty of people who will face this issue. Adoption these days is on the rise. Most of these children will be fine, but some of them won’t. And at least on its face the story of Heidi and Rick and Daniel seems to offer an encouraging example. Heidi and Rick were able to take a 7-year-old with no direct experience of adult affection, and with a certain amount of pain and suffering, turn him into a loving son. The only problem, is that the actual participants in this story, see things differently.

Interviewer: Do you feel like you can teach love?
Heidi: No.

See, Heidi actually has a very humble view of what is, and is not possible. What should, and should not be expected as far as love is concerned. In fact, she tells me, that in her own mind, what she wanted from Daniel all along, was very, very modest.

Heidi: I don’t think the goal was ever love. The goal was attachment.
Interviewer: Do you feel like you can teach attachment?
Heidi: I mean, I think you can work really hard to create an environment where you can form attachment. You want to create these situations where it’s more advantageous for them to attach, than to keep doing things their own way and being in their own world, isolated.

Heidi seems utterly practical about the whole thing, even about whether or not her son now loves her.

Interviewer: Do you feel loved by Daniel?
Heidi: Yeah, I feel loved by Daniel. I don’t think he wants to hurt me, I don’t worry about that at all.

“I don’t think he wants to hurt me, I don’t worry about that at all.” It’s a very unsentimental view of her relationship with her child. But that is probably exactly what had made Heidi so successful. That is, Heidi is an unusually pragmatic person. She’s not a flowering earth-mother, with a wealth of love to give. She’s fundamentally realistic, tough-minded, and these are precisely the characteristics that are needed in this situation. If you’re the kind of person who actually needs love, really needs love, chances are, you’re not the kind of person who’s going to have the wherewithal to create it.  Creating love is not for the soft and sentimental among us; love is a tough business.

“What should, and should not be expected, as far as love is concerned.” “Creating love is not for the soft and sentimental among us; love is a tough business”. This reminds me of my own mother’s advice when I was expecting – motherhood is a task and a skill, and like any other skill, it requires effort, training, learning from mistakes and experience. My mom, who so dislikes the way motherhood is often romanticized and idealized, and thinks every parenting book should carry this disclaimer – “there is no  magically-occurring sacred bond between mother and child, you have to create it, work at it every single day”.

Wittertainment’s Cinema Code of Conduct

From BBC’s flagship film review program (24 millions downloads), the Cinema Code of Conduct presented by Mark Kermode and SimonMayo. The “no mobile phone usage” seems a bit hypocritical, since Mr Mayo has been known to twitter from his phone during a movie.

Mark Kermode and The Dark Knight

I’m not really a fan of the ferry scene in The Dark Knight, like BBC film crtitic Mark Kermode, I think the movie ends up having one moral dilemma too many (give up Batman or The Joker will start killing people, choose whether to save the woman you love or the person who can clean up Gotham, and on and on). But Kermode’s other criticism of the ferry scene is that it doesn’t make sense from logical stand-point. According to him, the mother who has her children with her on board the civilian’s ferry would definitely have snatched the detonator and blown the prisoner’s ferry, to save her children. “I’ll go to hell for this, but that’s fine, as long as my kids are saved.”

Setting aside the moral/ethical question of essentially committing mass murder to save your children, I wonder if the reason people on the civilian’s ferry hesitated is that they don’t trust The Joker – what if they push the detonator, and boomm, it’s their boat that ends up blowing up? The Joker did pull the bait-and-switch during the “save Rachel or Harvey Dent” dilemma.

I never thought a movie review can be more entertaining that the movie itself, but in Kermode’s case, that’s usually true. He’s at his best when he absolutely hates a movie – his rants are awesome!! (He actually liked The Dark Knight, except for his reservation about too many moral dilemma, and how it’s not better than Batman Begins). My favorite is this Sex and the City 2 review. I mean, how many movie reviews use phrases such as “corpulent filthy lucre”, “imperialist American pig dog of the highest order”?

He can be very frustrating sometimes – I think he’s too prejudiced against romantic comedy in general, and he thinks The Exorcist is the greatest movie of all time (uhhh, don’t think so). You can download his movie review podcasts here. But most of his reviews are also on youtube through the BBC official channel here, so it’s not against copyright or anything.