The Station Agent
“When I was younger, definitely, I let it get to me. As an adolescent, I was bitter and angry and I definitely put up these walls. But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humor. You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.” Peter Dinklage on his short stature
Standing four feet five inches tall, American actor Peter Dinklage has created a prolific career both on-stage and in film. Though most actors his height don’t dither in seizing roles that ridicule or typecast dwarfism (most notably Verne Troyer in the Austin Powers series), he has instead portrayed characters that are not mere caricatures, but entirely human.
Eight years after making a small, but memorable appearance as Tito in his feature debut, Living In Oblivion (1995), Dinklage attracted the attention of public with his role as the dwarfism man, Finbar McBride, in Thomas McCarthy ‘s The Station Agent, which won festival acclaim at Sundance. For his outstanding performance, he was handed an Ourense Independent Film Festival Award, as well as received a Screen Actors Guild, Online Film Critics Society, Independent Spirit and Chlotrudis nominations. Since then, he has played roles in a number of movies, including Elf (2003, with Will Ferrell), Surviving Eden (2004, with Michael Panes), The Baxter (2005, with Michelle Williams), Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty (2006, opposite Vin Diesel) and Penelope (2006, starred Christina Ricci). On television, Dinklage is perhaps most known by TV audiences as Arthur Ramsey in the sci-fi series “Threshold” (2005-2006).
Off camera, brown-haired, blue-eyed Dinklage is a vegetarian. In 2005, he eloped to Las Vegas with his theater director-fiancée, Erica Schmidt (engaged in November 2004). Dinklage currently resides in Brooklyn, New York
Childhood and Family:
Son of John, retired insurance salesman, and Diane, a former elementary school music teacher, Peter Dinklage was born on June 11, 1969, in Morristown, New Jersey. He graduated from Delbarton School in 1987 and earned a Bachelor’s in Drama from Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont in 1991, where he was awarded a Libby Zion for Dramatic Excellence. He later flew to England to study at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Welsh School of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales.
Despite his impressive academic resume, Peter had a hard upbringing. He was the only member of his family affected by dwarfism. Thanks to his supportive family, including his older brother Jonathan (violinist), he managed to grip the situation with a sense of humor, even joking that his mom maybe drove by the power plant while pregnant with him.
A native of New Jersey, Peter Dinklage knew that he wanted to pursue an acting career at an early age. As a child, he liked performing for family and friends, and took part in a production of “Pinocchio” when he was in forth grade. While in college, he acted in such plays as “Heartpiece,” “Video Priests,” “The Author’s Voice” and “Landscape of the Body.” After training in England, he was seen in numerous New York theatrical productions, including Jonathan Marc Sherman’s “Evolution,” Patrick Breen’s “Marketing,” Brandon Cole’s “Imperfect Love” and director Lee Breuer’s “A Doll’s House.” Also a playwright, Dinklage penned several plays, including one the 1990 “Frog.”
After extensive theater work, Dinklage finally made his film-bow in the Tom DiCillo-directed Living In Oblivion (1995), an independent comedy starring Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener, where he memorably played the small role of Tito. It was followed by supporting parts in films Bullet (1996), director John Hamburg’s comedy Safe Men (1998), Pigeonholed (1999), director-writer Eric Shaffer’s Never Again (2001), the comedy Human Nature (2001, starred Patricia Arquette and Tim Robbins), 13 Moons (2002, rejoined with Buscemi) and Just a Kiss (2002, with Kyra Sedgwick).
However, Dinklage did not receive many attentions until 2003, with his starring role of Finbar McBride in the drama film The Station Agent, for director Thomas McCarthy. Impressively portraying a man with dwarfism who takes over a deserted rail depot and chooses to live a life of loneliness, the actor picked up an Ourense Independent Film Festival for Best Actor, as well as received such nods as a Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, an Online Film Critics Society for Best Breakthrough Performance, an Independent Spirit for Best Male Lead and a Chlotrudis for Best Actor. The film itself was extensively praised by critics and won the coveted Audience Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. The same year, he had a supporting part in a higher profile film Elf (2003), where he played an belligerent children’s book creator who misinterprets Buddy the Elf’s (Will Ferrell) likeness for him.
2004-2005 found roles in such films as 89 Seconds at Alcázar, Jail Bait, the mockumentary Surviving Eden (as Michael Panes’ karate-loving best friend), The Baxter (2005, with Michelle Williams), Testing Bob (2005, TV), Escape Artists (2005), Lassie (2005) and Fortunes (2005). He also had recurring roles in the series “I’m with Her” (2004, as Elliot Rosen) and “Life As We Know It” (2005, as Dr. Belber), as well as made a cameo appearance on HBO’s show “Entourage” (2005).
Dinklage landed the costarring role of linguist and mathematician Arthur Ramsey in the short-lived CBS series “Threshold” (2005-2006), a sci-fi drama about a female government agent (Carla Gugino) who guides scientific and military forces in reaction to an alien invasion. In 2006, he appeared in the drama film The Limbo Room, portrayed lead defense, opposite Vin Diesel, in Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama Find Me Guilty, played Sam Norton in the remake of the 1953 classic Little Fugitive and costarred with Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara and Reese Witherspoon in Penelope.
The 37-year-old actor is set to play roles in Dangerous Parking (2006), Mendel’s Dwarf (2006), the drama 3/5 of a Man (2007), Death at a Funeral (2007) and Underdog (2007). He is also reportedly in negotiation to play Mongo in the fantasy film An Affair of Sorcerers, for 2008 release.