Like so many people born in the late 1960s, actor Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) grew up in George Lucas’ alternate universe where wookies, jawas, droids and a mysterious power called the Force ruled the day.
He would watch and re-watch the Star Wars movies, finding himself transfixed by their otherworldly storylines, conflicted characters and cutting-edge special effects.
It’s no surprise, then, that he leapt at the chance to play Trumpkin, a cynical red dwarf, in The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the second film in the Narnia series based on the novels of famed children’s fantasy writer C.S. Lewis.
“I grew up on Star Wars and suddenly I’m in one of these movies that’s like what I grew up on and it’s such a thrill,” Dinklage says. “I love movies about the modern day miseries of living in New York and stuff like that if they’re done well, but there’s nothing like a matinee fantasy film.”
The success and overwhelming number of films or full-blown franchises based on fantasy novels that have been produced in the past decade – Harry Potter, The Lord Of The Rings and The Golden Compass, for example — are proof that movie-going audiences share Dinklage’s love of the genre.
The 38-year-old actor considers that perspective a unique one. His stature often leads to his casting as mythical characters in film so by his own assessment, Dinklage knows a worthwhile fantasy film elf or dwarf when he sees one.
He feels the rich characterizations of the Narnia stories have given the books a definitive literary relevance that has maintained their popularity since first being published by Lewis in the 1950s.
“Being four-and-a-half feet tall I’ve always thought that dwarves and characters like that in fantasy books were really set dressing, were just creatures and didn’t have personalities,” he says.
“But with these books, all of them, even the talking mouse, are really fully-drawn characters and bring you into that world.”
To play Trumpkin, Dinklage drew on the fantasy heroes of his youth and applied elements of their personalities to bring his crusty character to life.
“There’s a modern sensibility to Trumpkin, he has a modern wit about him and about his size and, like me, a sense of humour about my size,” he says.
“I’m always drawn to the sense of humour in the fantasy world where sword fights are happening all around you, you need that core of cynicism and humour. So I really liked that. I knew I would be that voice of reason in this world of wonderment.”
Prince Caspian opens in theatres today.
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