Friday, September 10, 2004

The Village Voice: Features: The Little King by Charles McNulty

Sitting in the lobby of the Public Theater during a rehearsal break from Richard III, Peter Dinklage seems far too nice to play one of Shakespeare's nastier butcher kings. Though a little fatigued from his theatrical labors, he still exudes friendliness. Acknowledging company members with an outsize smile, he flashes a two-fingered peace sign to an exiting pal. Even the goatee he's sprouted for the role has a genial effect—at least, that is, when he's holding forth on the Bard in what appears to be his girlfriend's Vassar T-shirt. To dispose of the obvious: Dinklage, the world's most famous dwarf actor, stands no taller than your average fourth-grader. Once you get past that (give it about two minutes of conversation), you can't help observing how well-adjusted he is, how normal. By theater standards, he's off-the-charts normal. To tell the truth, it's a little unnerving. (Celebrities typically wear their neuroses on their sleeves.) But Dinklage's laid-back energy is positively contagious. There's nothing awkward or self-conscious about him, nothing defensive or sinister. He's the last person you'd cast as a villain, yet he's clearly mastered the art of transforming himself. How else to explain a four-foot-five guy rising so high in a profession not known for overlooking physical differences?

No comments: