Peter Dinklage on ‘Game of Thrones’: ‘It’s fiction. There’s dragons in it. Move on’

Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage is currently promoting Cyrano, where he plays Cyrano De Bergerac in yet another adaptation of the famous play. His Cyrano doesn’t have a big nose and this adaptation was written by Peter’s wife Erica Schmidt. Dinklage gave a lengthy interview to the NY Times before Christmas about the movie, but most people are only talking about the part where Dinklage discusses Game of Thrones and the “controversial” last season. Some highlights from this NYT piece:

His life was Game of Thrones for years: “‘Game of Thrones’ wasn’t really a TV show — it was like my life. My family was there in Ireland six months out of every year, for almost 10 years. You dig roots down there, my daughter was going to school there. She developed an Irish accent because she was with little Irish kids all day long.”

Love in his 20s: “I think there’s a “Wuthering Heights” quality to all love when you’re younger, you know? “Romeo and Juliet” wasn’t written for 40-year-olds. I was guilty of always falling for someone where it wasn’t reciprocated, because keeping it at a distance is more romantic than bringing it up close. You fall for people you know aren’t going to return that, so it’s even more tormented, and you’re not interested in the people interested in you. That’s how my brain worked because I was a self-saboteur when I was young.

Whether Game of Thrones should have gone on for another season: “It was the right time [to end it]. No less, no more. You don’t want to wear out your welcome, although I’m not sure that show could have. But I think the reason there was some backlash about the ending is because they were angry at us for breaking up with them. We were going off the air and they didn’t know what to do with their Sunday nights anymore. They wanted more, so they backlashed about that.

In the end: “We had to end when we did, because what the show was really good at was breaking preconceived notions: Villains became heroes, and heroes became villains. If you know your history, when you track the progress of tyrants, they don’t start off as tyrants. I’m talking about, spoiler alert, what happened at the end of “Game of Thrones” with that character change. It’s gradual, and I loved how power corrupted these people. What happens to your moral compass when you get a taste of power? Human beings are complicated characters, you know?

Whether viewers wanted a happier ending: “They wanted the pretty white people to ride off into the sunset together. By the way, it’s fiction. There’s dragons in it. Move on. [Laughs] No, but the show subverts what you think, and that’s what I love about it. Yeah, it was called “Game of Thrones,” but at the end, the whole dialogue when people would approach me on the street was, “Who’s going to be on the throne?” I don’t know why that was their takeaway because the show really was more than that.

His favorite GoT moment: “One of my favorite moments was when the dragon burned the throne because it sort of just killed that whole conversation, which is really irreverent and kind of brilliant on behalf of the show’s creators: “Shut up, it’s not about that.” They constantly did that, where you thought one thing and they delivered another. Everybody had their own stories going on while watching that show, but nobody’s was as good as what the show delivered, I think.”

[From The NY Times]

People are very mad at what he said about “There’s dragons in it. Move on.” But now that we’re a few years removed from GoT-mania, I’m sort of generally ambivalent. Sure, my blood pressure still ticks up whenever I think about what they did to Dany, but none of that is Peter Dinklage’s fault. The messiness of the last season was entirely the fault of Dan Weiss and David Benioff. They failed to sufficiently set up several of the major plot points. It was a failure of storytelling. Peter and the other actors did what they could, but let’s face it, most of them were f–king bored with the series too. Peter has every right to move on. Is he sort of spitting in the face of the GoT fandom? Or is he really just telling them to chill out a little bit?


Photos courtesy of Instar, Avalon Red.

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57 Responses to “Peter Dinklage on ‘Game of Thrones’: ‘It’s fiction. There’s dragons in it. Move on’”

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  1. CooCooCatchoo says:

    Peter is so handsome and sounds like a true romantic. He’s one of my long-time crushes.

  2. pandora says:

    I mainly cared about the white walkers and the winter is coming part of GOT. Sure, the who got to the throne was interesting, but never a main thing for me.

    Why I was really angry with the end was the nonsense 1 episode when all the big menace for years (the walkers) were defeated during one night. The Night King killed by ninja Arya. How ridiculous was that.

    winter is coming, winter is coming, the biggest fear for years…… and it came and was over during one night. I never forgive this nonsense.

    • T3PO says:

      Could not agree any more with a comment. After that episode I was yelling at the TV. 8 seasons of build up for absolutely nothing. It ruined the tag line of the show. Ruined all the warnings. And all the foreshadowing was for nothing.

    • Lauren says:

      They had been building up the white walkers plot since the first episode of the first season and they just wrapped it up in one badly shot episode that you can’t even see because of how fcking dark it is. I’m still pissed.

      • Sid says:

        It’s amazing how they made the White Walkers seem so creepy for all those seasons, then turned them into a joke in just one episode. Watching the White Walker King slowly prance through the forest toward Bran had me rolling.

    • manda says:

      That’s true. The only reason I watched this show (I had never heard of them before they premiered) was that I happened to catch the first episode, which concluded with the white walker encounter. Then we never saw them again

    • whowhatwherewhy says:

      yes! i actually liked the music and some of what happened but it should have gone over at least two episodes and ffs, been lit better! HATED not being able to tell what was happening! but i did think some scenes were well done. man that show became an absolute sh!tshow with such bizarre story changes made by the creators.

      • VIV says:

        And the guy in charge of lighting (don’t remember the title) was also very arrogant in the face of criticism, telling viewers they were all wrong. As if half of the audience didn’t watch the show on phone/etc streaming rather than full home theater setups… Peter’s response blaming the viewers is a theme from everyone involved with the show. I’d just stop taking questions on it at this point.

        The thing that annoyed me most about the WW episode/show ending was that too many of them survived.

  3. Ninks says:

    I like him but I disagree with his assessment that the backlash was because people didn’t want it to end – the backlash was because the writers completely effed up the ending. I love when tropes are subverted and the expected doesn’t happen but that wasn’t what happened with GOT. They had Arya kill the Night King for shock value, not because it made any kind of narrative sense. They had Jon kill Dany at the end, probably because that is GRRM’s story looks to be heading but they skipped over the plot and character development that would have it make sense or feel earned.

    He’s right though, people should chill especially around the actors who had no say in the dumb ending and were clearly not happy about it.

    • Lauren says:

      The actors need to stop with this “people are upset because the show ended”.

      I think people just want some acknowlegment from those that worked on it that there were issues. That D&D made some massive mistakes.

      Fans’d be more chill around the actors if the actors weren’t trying to shove that same line up our asses.

      All of them say it, so I can only imagine they were directed to do so by HBO.

    • superashes says:

      The pretty white people for the most part did ride off into the sunset and that was part of what made the ending so infuriating. Peter Dinklage implying racism was a root cause of why the fan base was disappointed was just garbage imho.

      Bran the Brave? I mean come on …

    • North of Boston says:

      Six Feet Under ended, and as much as there was some character craziness a) that was part of SFU’s brand and b) they stuck the landing with an ending that was beautiful and thought provoking and satisfying. With GoT, people weren’t pissed that it was ending, they were ticked and disappointed that it ended stupidly in a way that did not fit fit with the story they were telling for 9 years. People weren’t cranky because racism and starry dragon eyes, but because TPTB gave us lazy storytelling, bad lighting and simplistic nonsensical resolutions. Was it HIMYM bad? Or Lost levels of dopey nonsense? If not, it was pretty close.

      I’m hoping PD is just over it and trash talking for the heck of it, because if really believes the simplistic take he’s spouting, one that gaslights and is disrespectful to lots of people who heck no weren’t expecting a hallmark channel happy ending, but instead we’re hoping for well plotted and depicted character development and storytelling, it doesn’t reflect well on him as an artist or person.

  4. Aimee says:

    The show was great. The ending was so so. There were cool dragons. Move on.

    • smcollins says:

      Absolutely agree. I loved the show, was a faithful viewer from the very first episode, and was admittedly a bit disappointed in the ending, but I wasn’t so personally invested that I felt slighted or anything like that. At the end of the day it was a tv show that delivered a grand fantasy that, no matter when/how it ended, wasn’t going to live up to everyone’s expectations.

  5. Ainsley7 says:

    “ But I think the reason there was some backlash about the ending is because they were angry at us for breaking up with them. We were going off the air and they didn’t know what to do with their Sunday nights anymore.”

    That’s the part that bothered me. It was only on for 10 weeks a year. We could do whatever we did on the other 42 Sundays of the year. It’s fine that it ended. The problem is, to use his analogy, that the show runners sent us a text rather than breaking up face to face. After 9 years, we deserved more than a text saying “it’s over.” We didn’t want to see Dany be a tyrant. We wanted to see the character develop into a tyrant.

    • superashes says:

      Exactly. This show was on for one hour for eight days of a year. We all have moved on, this wasn’t a breakup, and moving on doesn’t mean that we now have to pretend that the last season was well done or some sort of cinematic feat. It was a total shitshow, and not because Dany was a tyrant, but because they didn’t want to take the 3 – 4 extra episodes necessary to actually show her descent. Not just her, but Jamie and his regressing to Cersei and Sansa transforming into an expert player of the game and ruler.

      Instead of just accepting that criticism, or agreeing to disagree, Peter D. opted to just act like all of us that were dissatisfied with the finale felt that way because of racism and because we have nothing better to do on Sundays now. It is just such an arrogant and asinine response.

  6. Merricat says:

    The show suffered when they ran out of source material and had to create on their own.

    • The Hench says:

      Exactly this. Mr Hench and I are currently re-watching over Christmas and he asked last night “It was so good. Why did it end so badly?” and that was the conclusion. D&D were the writers for some of the earlier series as well as the last but it all went belly up when they had to create rather than adapt. Part of the problem may be that even George RR Martin can’t work out how to pull it all together either – I doubt he will ever finish the last book.

      • Cate says:

        I agree. Granted I’ve never written one novel, let alone an epic series of them, but I don’t really see how the current series can be wrapped up without either really rushing things or leaving a lot of loose ends. GRRM seems to be pretty sick of the series and he certainly doesn’t need the money so I am not really expecting the last book to come out ever. Maybe someone will be hired to write it after he dies.

    • candy says:

      My thoughts exactly.

  7. Kath says:

    The problem was really not the fans being sad because it ended. Did they even read the criticisms of the show?
    I have no problem with Dany going mad, my problem is the quality of the writing making it look poorly done. Also many moments that we wanted to see the pay-off since season 1 were sold short, like with the whole White walkers being handled in one maddening episode (what battle strategy was that??), with someone totally unrelated to the story getting a big moment for shock value. Also things like Jon Snow finding out the truth about his parents being done in scenes were the scene cut off right when it was about to get interesting! (The earlier seasons were famous for the dialogue, but in the scene Jon tells his siblings about his heritage we don’t even see the conversation!).
    It was so poorly written and skipped all the emotional moments. All the same things could have happened and the show would have had a successful finish if it had a good script, simple as that.

    • Commonwealthy sounded witty at first says:

      Omg, if I forgot about the whole Jon’s parentage thing! That’s how much season 8 went tits up. If “lost the plot” was a final season… man. I just feel annoyed… no payoff on anything significant. Dany a monster out if nowhere was bad enough, and Bran ended up king? White walkers dispatched and no explanation of how those little baby boys were connected to them? Just… no, can’t revisit this. Nope.

  8. Catherine says:

    I sympathize with the actors on the show because they are the ones who have to deal most directly with the criticism of things they have little to no control over. They are the ones out front. While the writers, producers, directors etc. get to be behind the scenes. So I can understand his frustration. I don’t think it’s intent to be disrespectful to the fandom. I just think he probably is at a point where he is just tired of being accountable for something he couldn’t control.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Catherine, I can’t comment on GoT, as I didn’t watch it, but he was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning and I find him to be a wonderful, but slightly crank-ish man. Peter was talking about how people would walk up to him in the streets and talk to him, as if they were old friends, which he hated!!! Peter is a private person IRL and he took it as very disrespectful, which it is, and I think that has soured him. Though, he did come off as a very intuitive and compassionate man with strong convictions and a strong sense of keeping his life private, as all of us are able to have the luxury of, but not most actors or entertainers. Peter is a man that would like to work and live a life free from strangers approaching him on a constant basis, as well as expanding his career and living his life with his brilliant, lovely wife and his children. I don’t think he is asking for too much.

      Though I am certainly going to read this article as I do love his acting and him as well, whether he is cranky or not.

      • Ry says:

        Bothsides, it’s so true. People think their beloved actors belong to them. It’s a job.
        Imagine working in a cubicle next to someone and just following them home everyday because that person is too familiar to you.
        As for Game? Meh. Loved it but it’s over. I just forget the ending and enjoy the ride.
        I will say Bran was a sneaky bitch lol. He knew.

      • Mmc says:

        If you want privacy do indie films, don’t sign up for a fantasy spectacle on a huge network.

        Half of the time actors want all the perks with none of the bad things. And I get not wanting paparazzi and harrassment, which is totally fair. But this is just fans being annoying and dealing with that is part of the job.

  9. Sigmund says:

    I think for actors, it’s just different. I’ve watched other film and tv series where the storyline withered away or fell flat, and as a viewer, it’s incredibly frustrating. But more often than not, the actors just kind of shrug it off. Because a) they have to, it’s not like they have the power to change it, and b) I think they have to distance themselves from it a bit to stay healthy. They did their job and have to move on. It’s the fans who’s struggle with coming to terms with it, because the fans are naturally more invested.

  10. A says:

    What I’ve seen online it’s not the ‘move on’ comment that riled people up, so much. It’s the part before, where he says fans wanted the pretty white people to have a happy ending. As if everyone watched that show for a decade and still expected everything to work out well for their favorite characters. The last season or two were poorly done- the POC characters got the worst end of that, by the way- and it’s pretty condescending of Dinklage to brush that off as fans not understanding it wasn’t a fairy tale.

    • Oliphant says:

      totally, and aren’t the starks all white? Is he low key trolling arya and Sansa LOL

    • hoopjumper says:

      I totally agree. Fans aren’t stupid. The moment Jon and Dany got together, people were like, “oh no, romantic love leads to bad places on GoT” (Red Wedding, anyone?). And they were intrigued. People were not invested in a fairy tale, they were invested in good storytelling.

      Also, an actor judging people who are overinvested in fiction is like a plumber judging people who are invested in water. Jeez. It kind of reminds me of the actors who called Black Widow a slut, and then were like, “uuh, she’s fake, DUH.” It just totally misses the fact that people’s investment is what gives them work in the first place.

      • A says:

        Absolutely. On the one hand, I don’t understand why anyone would really ask Dinklage that kind of question years after the show ended. Because, like you said, he finished his job. On the other, why be chippy to the people who LIKED watching you, as an actor, work for ten years?

  11. wordnerd says:

    Ummm no, we were mad because the two show runners couldn’t wait to move on to their big, shiny new Star Wars project so they looked at the remaining pieces of GoT, rolled their eyes, and shoved everything into one shortened season, rather than doing right by the characters and their stories.

  12. Sankay says:

    I watch great stories and series over and over. The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are staples in my yearly viewing. GoTs could have been the same It was a huge hit with HBO but after those last two seasons it fell off the radar. It’s hard to watch now knowing what came of the ending.

  13. Acal says:

    It’s not that people were upset that the show ended-it’s that the writing the last 2 season got SO lazy that it felt like we had all wasted the previous 8 years. The storyline made zero sense and was poorly done

  14. Talie says:

    His response is kinda snobby, but I get it, the cast knows the ending was bad. I don’t think this will be a show that ages particularly well even though there was such an obsession with it. I mean, it’s not Mad Men or Six Feet Under.

    • lunchcoma says:

      Though the Six Feet Under reference is interesting. I watched that show all the way through, and it wasn’t considered so much of a triumph of television then as it is now. I loved the characters, but it was definitely one of those shows that had good episodes and bad episodes. Part of why many people remember it so fondly is because the show tied everything together so well at the end. I think Game of Thrones might have aged a bit better if it had tied things together in a way that satisfied the audience – though I do think that the gratuitous nudity already seems quite dated, as even very adult shows have moved a bit away from that.

  15. lunchcoma says:

    Audiences are often guilty of cheering for the pretty white people to get happy endings, but that’s not the reason they responded that way to the Game of Thrones ending. For starters, the vast majority of the cast consisted of pretty white people. One of the objections was that the show didn’t do a good job of resolving the plotlines of non-white characters and groups, and particularly bungled the death of a major Black character.

    I also don’t think that audiences struggled too much to move on. I suspect it looks differently from the actors’ perspective, but I’ve seen very few popular shows fall out of public consciousness so quickly. I suspect Game of Thrones might be seen more as the end of a TV era rather than as one of those keystone shows people are rewatching 20 years later.

    That being said, Peter didn’t write the ending, and I’m sure he’s happy to move on and play other roles.

  16. Dashen'ka says:

    Peter Dinklage has always been an incredible actor and worked a lot before GoT, but there’s no denying that this show shot him into the stratosphere and made him incredibly rich and famous. And now he wants to crap all over the audience that tuned in every week and made it such a massive success, saying they are racists who have no life? Oh…

  17. STRIPE says:

    Literally nobody I know was upset that it wasn’t a storybook ending. Did anyone expect it to be?

    What was upsetting was the insanely sloppy writing that ended a show that previously had been about meticulous character and plot development.

    I get it, though. He is probably dead tired of hearing about it. I don’t blame him for being a little defensive about the backlash. What is annoying is the seemingly willful ignorance of the difference (for example) of being mad that Danny turned and being mad that her turn wasn’t earned in the storytelling.

  18. Andrea says:

    I’m still mad Jamie didn’t stay with Brianna. Lol

  19. JJ Plauche says:

    I loved that show but stopped watching the last season. I heard about the ending and knew I would hate it so I left. I did the same with the Sopranos and Seinfeld. No hard feelings. I think it’s almost impossible to end an epic series.

  20. Ann says:

    Eh, he could have worded it better but I don’t fault him for being a little prickly. He probably gets s**t all the time for the ending, which was in no way his fault. Heck, his own character was kind of done dirty by the writers too. Tyrion stopped being wickedly funny and had to say that God-awful “Bran The Broken” line. Poor Kit Harrington was so depressed he had to check himself into a facility for a while.

    The writers kind of botched the ending of what had been a great show and could have been remembered for all time as such. I don’t need to watch GoT on Sunday nights. I found other things to watch, and read, and do. I just wish they had sustained the quality through to the end so I could re-watch it some day. I think much (though not all) of the earlier material was brilliant. But I don’t blame Peter for this, I blame the writers, end of.

    And like others said, it’s not what happened that was the problem, it’s how they got there. Too rushed, time wasted, indulgent story-telling, and frankly, one actor (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who couldn’t make his character as strong and compelling as he should have been. And that’s not entirely his fault, either. He was hired when he was eight and they couldn’t predict how well he’d age into his part. The direction could have been better. They could have worked with him and been aware of how he was coming across. Bran was just creepy and boring, IMO.

    And I was never a big Dany fan but I felt very badly for those who were. Ugh.

    • superashes says:

      All this. Also, I think they ended up with some sort of deal where Cersei was paid by the word, so they basically for the last season wrote her character to say as little as possible then killed her off-screen. Bizarre considering she was supposed to be the final big bad, since I guess they only needed one night to kill of the Night King.

      • Ann says:

        That’s ridiculous. Why should she have been paid that way? She was an important character among many important characters, and I would argue not in the Top Three, though maybe the Top Five. Don’t get me wrong, LH was great and could convey a lot in just a couple of words, but still. How much was Kit Harrington paid for sloshing around in the mud and cold for hours on end in the battle scenes, working way harder than LH had to, at least physically? That stuff takes a toll.

  21. Lory says:

    I like Dinklage, but the fans investment in the show increased his profile around the world. Doesn’t it benefit actors for fans to LOVE and respond to your work? You have to take the good with the bad, and actors tend not to like acknowledging anything other than adulation.

  22. Stacy Dresden says:

    Yeah I’ve moved on but I invested like 8 years in a show and then they absolutely botched and made corny the ending and characters. Give us a break, don’t pretend like it was anger over the show coming to an end. I didn’t even watch the final episode because I simply didn’t want to witness the plot that was leaked play out onscreen. Gross!

  23. jferber says:

    I love him. Great actor.

  24. Sof says:

    Sorry I can’t help my self, the BOOK series are called A Song of Ice and Fire, the TV SHOW was called Game of Thrones. So, yes Peter, it was all about the throne in your case. Why change the title then?

  25. Lucia says:

    After doing the rewatch back in April, I realized I 100% agree with the way it ended (apart from the fact that I wish Arya and Gendry would have ended together), so, naturally, I also agree with everything PD says here.

  26. Emma says:

    I haven’t thought about GOT in a long time. It sounds like Peter is the one who hasn’t moved on. No one is forcing him to talk and talk and talk about this.

    Also it sounds like he has completely no idea of why people disliked the last season. It was rushed and disorganized, after so much care had clearly been put into most of the previous seasons. There were also legitimate criticisms about how the show sidelined or ignored their few actors of color throughout the whole run, which now this white man wants to whitewash and sweep under the rug and twist around to argue backwards that people didn’t like the show because the ending did not focus *enough* on white people? No. Do not do that. Literally every main cast member who even survived at the end was white. (Am I missing anyone??? Don’t think so?) The show was about white people and yet more white people — Starks, Lannisters, Boltons, Tyrells, Targaryens . . .

  27. paranormalgirl says:

    On a side note, I am IN LOVE with the song “Somebody Desperate” by the National from the Cyrano soundtrack.

  28. Veronica S. says:

    I get what he’s saying, but I’m also like…viewers also made a time investment there, too. That was years of our lives, and D&D failed to hold up their part of the deal giving it a good close. The show wouldn’t have had eight seasons unless fans showed up to watch it, and fans are what drive media interest after a series finished.

    You owe it to the people who pay the bills with their subscriptions to do your job of providing the best possible product, and they simply didn’t. That’s not just an insult to the fans but to all of the actors who put their years in, too. What happened is two rich kids were given a series they didn’t have the talent or experience to really do, and when they got bored with their toy, they tossed it aside at the expense of everybody else involved. We should have no problem calling that out for what it was.

    • Ann says:

      I totally agree, but that’s not Peter’s fault. He is the one having fans talk to him about it (I assume). No one really even knows what the writers look like, so they get off easy. But I agree the fans made the show the phenomenon it was, in many ways, so that needs to be acknowledged. But maybe he sees that as both a blessing and a curse, which is fair enough.

  29. Weird that he’s taking the criticism so personally, considering he didn’t write or direct any of it. In any case, the Ridley Scott method of “alienate your audience by insulting them for not liking it” probably isn’t the way to go.