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Peter Dinklage addresses the controversy surrounding My Dinner with Hervé

When it was first announced that Peter Dinklage would be playing Hervé Villechaize in HBO's MY DINNER WITH HERVÉ, a bit of a controversy flared up as some claimed that the casting would be white-washing. It was believed that Villechaize was half-Filipino, but Peter Dinklage set the record straight while speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming biopic.

The internet is the best thing and the worst thing. The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover. Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly. It says [Villechiaze was half-Filipino] on Wikipedia... There’s this term “whitewashing.” I completely understand that. But Hervé wasn’t Filipino. Dwarfism manifests physically in many different ways. I have a very different type of dwarfism than Hervé had. I’ve met his brother and other members of his family. He was French, and of German and English descent. So it’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information.

I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or sense of justice because I feel the exact same way when there’s some weird racial profile. But these people think they’re doing the right thing politically and morally and it’s actually getting flipped because what they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone. He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff. This [movie] isn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Personally, I would never do that, and I haven’t done that, because he wasn’t. People are jumping to conclusions based on a man’s appearance alone and that saddens me.

Based upon Hervé Villechaize's roles in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN and Fantasy Island, combined with his appearance, Peter Dinklage understands how the belief of Villechaize's Filipino heritage got started. "Maybe people were thinking of The Man with the Golden Gun, which was shot in Southeast Asia, and Fantasy Island, where he’s on an island, and that, compounded with how he looked, made some think he must be from that part of the world. But that’s also part of the mystery and fun of this movie," Dinklage said. "He was so many things and he was proud of the myth of himself as well. Everybody I met — his brother, his girlfriend, people who worked with him — said he was “so proud.” If [being Filipino] was part of his heritage he would have been very proud of that. Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too. But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, 'Okay, calm down.'"

Inspired by a real story, MY DINNER WITH HERVÉ will explore the "unlikely friendship between struggling journalist Danny Tate and Hervé Villechaize (Dinklage), the world’s most famous knife-wielding French dwarf actor, as it unfolds over one wild night in LA – an encounter that will have life-changing consequences for both." The film also stars Jamie Dornan, Mireille Enos, Harriet Walter, Oona Chaplin, David Strathairn, and Andy Garcia, and will debut on HBO on October 20, 2018.

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