Why Peter Dinklage Found My Dinner With Hervé So Daunting
By Ariana Bacle
The film’s star and executive producer talks the challenges of playing a real person.
As Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage has survived war, narrowly escaped execution and stared down dragons, but when he signed on to star as the late Hervé Villechaize in My Dinner with Hervé, the actor experienced a new first: portraying a real person.
“I’ve never played anybody who lived and breathed, so that’s a bit daunting,” said Dinklage at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. “You have to follow in the footsteps of someone, and talk to family members and loved ones. That in and of itself adds a complexity that I never faced before.”
For the unfamiliar, Villechaize, who died in 1993, was a French-born actor best known for starring in the hit series Fantasy Island and the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun. Although he’s often remembered as the one who delivered the famous Fantasy Island tagline, “De plane! De plane!,” the movie seeks to widen Villechaize’s legacy by painting a vivid, truthful portrait of the man.
My Dinner with Hervé is based on Sacha Gervasi’s illuminating interview with the star 25 years ago. It turned out to be Villechaize’s last: He died by suicide just days after parting ways with the writer. Gervasi promised to tell Villechaize’s story, and went on to write the screenplay, which sees the actor taking a character inspired by Gervasi — played by Jamie Dornan — on a wild ride through Los Angeles.
“He was taken at face value quite often,” Dinklage said. “But there’s definitely more to everybody than what you see. We’re all complicated, some of us more so than others, but you need to take the time to get to know someone before you judge them.”
Still, Dinklage is clear that this is an interpretation of him, not an exact replica.
“At the end of the day, I'm not Hervé, and I couldn't do an impression of Hervé,” Dinklage shared. “I had to do what I do, which is honor the man and shed a light on him that I can only do in my way.I would never begin to be able to fully understand what went on in the man's soul and his mind, but I could do it to the best of my abilities.”