Peter Dinklage: ‘Cyrano is now more relevant than ever’

Peter Dinklage stars as the title character in Joe Wright’s “Cyrano.”
Peter Mountain

By María Estévez, special for MWN

Peter Dinklage, the hero of “Game of Thrones,” returns to the big screen with the musical romantic drama “Cyrano.” Nominated for a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for his role as Cyrano de Bergerac, Dinklage acknowledges that adapting the character without the large nose was a great move by screenwriter Erica Schmidt, his real-life wife.

The actor reprises his 2018 theatrical role, where he becomes a swashbuckling swordsman with a great talent for words but is terrified to declare his feelings to the woman he loves due to his unattractive appearance.

Metro had the opportunity to interview Dinklage to learn more about his character and his career.

You started out singing in a band. What does it mean to return to a musical at this point in your career?

I’m having a lot of fun, it’s a new challenge. I like to sing, whether I do it well or not doesn’t matter because singing from the heart is the important thing. I hadn’t done a musical since my childhood. I was in a punk band for a couple of years in my teens and I wouldn’t say I sang, it would be better to say I screamed and rapped. The songs in this film are wonderful and speak very well of the original “Cyrano.” This is not the typical musical, where I get to sing and dance, I couldn’t do that, it’s more of a film with songs, which is something very different.

Is it important to tell the story of “Cyrano” in these times when beauty and attention became social media currency?

Yes. It’s more relevant now than ever. Cyrano’s letters are written for others to make believe they are his words, it’s what everyone does on networks: create a persona that is not real. In the real world, you’re not going to write on your profile that shows you snore like an animal, or that you’re unattractive, you’re going to say you’re wonderful and full of life. All of that leads to disappointment because these profiles are created by imagination. People hide in versions of themselves that don’t necessarily mean they are who they say they are.

Why did you decide to play Cyrano? Normally you play yourself with a fake nose, but in your case, you use your body as a tool for the character.

I am who I am, so I’m always going to play the characters with my body. I’m very conscious that I depend on brilliant writing to avoid the pitfalls I might encounter because of my physique. In this case, my role is not overwhelmed by my stature, it’s part of who I am and any other writer could have abused that characteristic and I’m not interested in having my physique exploited in any film. When you get a multi-dimensional character, like this one, where my height is reported, but it’s not dependent on that characteristic, it feels like a more authentic story to me. To me, once Erica Schmidt (Dinklage’s wife and screenwriter) adapted the script, I thought it was genius to get rid of the fake nose and I saw my way into the character. I’ve always seen Cyrano as an attractive actor attached to a nose, which makes you get distracted by it. In my case, I don’t go home and take my nose off at night, my character is rawer because you see him as someone terrified with the idea of not being able to get the love of his life, something that has happened to all of us in life.

Is there anything in common between Cyrano and Tyrion, your character in “Game of Thrones”?

They are two very brave guys, they are both capable of overcoming their fears. One doesn’t consider himself worthy of the love he feels and the other needs to overcome his loneliness.

You spent a decade playing Game of Thrones, do you miss the series?

No. I miss filming in Ireland, which was a wonderful place. I miss spending seasons in Europe, the people on the crew, but not the character.

When you play a character based on a book, do you feel you lose creative freedom?

You can’t and shouldn’t be limited. With every character, with every story you have to create, you have to start from scratch. I can speak from experience because, after playing “Game of Thrones,” I discovered that it’s impossible to convince everyone. Everyone has a different and definitive opinion of the characters and some don’t accept your version. You don’t have to try to convince them because beauty comes from creating your own role. If you serve the story well, the result is likely to be satisfactory.

How do you enjoy your day after work?

I enjoy spending time with my family, with my friends. I enjoy reading and playing Scrabble on the Internet, which is one of my obsessions.

Can you keep your life private in New York?

Yes, although it’s getting more and more complicated. I’m a very private man and sometimes it’s exhausting to have the phone numbers of every person you meet in front of your face. People are naughty and try to take pictures without permission and it irritates me. I don’t understand why they do it, isn’t it better to introduce yourself and get to know the person instead of stealing a blurry photo?