In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Game of Thrones favourite Peter Dinklage claims that there is no truth to the whitewashing claims plaguing his new HBO film about the life of Fantasy Island star Hervé Villechaize.
Villechaize was one of the first actors with dwarfism to achieve a great deal of commercial success. In addition to his work on Fantasy Island, he starred in James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun as villain Nick Nack. However, the French star battled personal demons, including longtime suicidal ideation and chronic pain. He died by suicide in 1993.
Dinklage, who was also born with dwarfism, will portray Villechaize in upcoming HBO film My Dinner With Hervé, to air on the network October 20. The film will chronicle an interview that Villechaize did with a journalist, played by Jamie Dornan, shortly before the actor died at age 50.
After the casting was announced, some people accused the film of "whitewashing" Villechaize, whom many believe to be of Filipino descent. According to Dinklage, this is not the case.
"Hervé wasn’t Filipino," the actor told Entertainment Weekly in a new interview pegged to the film. "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."
"These people [who call the film out for whitewashing] 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."
At a panel at the Television Critics Association, per IndieWire, HBO president Casey Bloys also denied that there was a whitewashing issue, as, like Dinklage stated, Villechaize's family confirmed they are not of Filipino descent, despite online reports claiming otherwise.
Dinklage hopes that his portrayal of this trailblazing star helps people see those living with dwarfism in a different light, especially considering the issues the community still faces in terms of representation. He told EW:
"Dwarf tossing still exists. There are still people of my size dressing up as elves at Christmas time. And if everybody continues to do that, then it won’t stop. But my daughter doesn’t think I’m a mythical creature. Unicorns don’t exist, but I do. It’s tricky, what we put out there, to perpetuate for future generations."