Peter Dinklage is almost overwhelming in his talent. Watching him play Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones is an experience beyond compare, which is an opinion shared by the entire world if his fame is anything to go by. He's gone from being an indie actor in features like The Station Agent to being a household name, defying society's preconceived notions regarding dwarf actors. With too many awards and nominations to count, including Sunday night's Emmy Awards, Dinklage is as unflinching in his personal life as he is on camera. With tons of information out there about the man, here are some notable pieces of information you should know about him — including his affinity for old man sweaters.
1. The 4'5" actor was born in Morristown, New Jersey on June 11, 1969 (making him 44-years-old) to Diane, an elementary school music teacher, and John Carl, a retired insurance salesman. He was born with achondroplasia, which is a common cause of dwarfism where the body is formed perfectly but the long bones in the arms and legs, those that are modeled in cartilage, don't grow very long.
2. Dinklage is of German, English and Irish descent, and is related to the German Westphalian noble family "von Dincklage."
3. When he was a kid, he and his brother would put on puppet musicals for the whole neighborhood. They did a puppet version of the Who album, Quadrophenia, and made drum kits out of tuna cans.
4. To survive high school at 13-years-old, he believed he was William Burroughs and had an ego to match.
5. He was awarded a degree in drama from Bennington College in 1991.
6. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, theater director Erica Schmidt, and their daughter Zelig. He enjoys playing in his herb garden while wearing old man sweaters.
7. While growing up in New Jersey, his neighbor was Bruce Springsteen's manager. Bruce used to hang out at Dinklage's house and play the guitar, but since Dinklage was only two-years-old he doesn't remember any of it and goes by stories his parents tell. His mom was apparently not impressed by the musician.
8. George R.R. Martin knew he wanted Dinklage to play Tyrion from the beginning and HBO didn't even ask him to audition before offering him the role. Unlike Tyrion, he doesn't fancy himself a tough guy and has said that fight scenes featuring him are a big lie.
9. He and Lena Headey were friends long before Game of Thrones and Dinklage was apparently the one who originally suggested her as Cersei.
10. His breakout role was in 2003s The Station Agent, for which he received Independent Spirit and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actor.
11. In a video for PETA he explains why he is a vegetarian: "I like animals. All animals. I wouldn't hurt a cat or a dog — or a chicken, or a cow. And I wouldn't ask someone else to hurt them for me. That's why I'm a vegetarian."
12. He is also an avid animal rights activist and is against testing on animals.
He's a notable stage actor and has starred in many Off-Broadway productions, including Richard III.
13. In 2007 he starred in Death at a Funeral and then in 2010 reprised his role in the American remake of the same film.
14. He has a scar that runs from his neck to his eyebrow from on onstage accident when he was performing at CBGB with his old punk-funk-rap band Whizzy in New York. "I was jumping around onstage and got accidentally kneed in the temple," he told Playboy. "Blood was going everywhere. I just grabbed a dirty bar napkin and dabbed my head and went on with the show. We didn't care much at the time about personal safety."
15. He used to turn down a lot of roles when he was just starting in the acting world, refusing to take any parts that used his height as a source of laughter and mockery — meaning he didn't want to dress up as elves or leprechauns. "Dwarves are still the butt of jokes. It’s one of the last bastions of acceptable prejudice…by media, everything," he told The New York Times. He added that actors who happen to be dwarves can do their part to change that. "You can say no. You can not be the object of ridicule."
16. As much as he appreciates the attention from women, he takes everything with a grain of salt and doesn't believe their amorous advances. "Women still go for guys who are 6-foot-2. It's nice that people are thinking outside the box, but I don't believe it for a minute," he told Playboy Magazine.
17. On the term "midget": "It's like the N-word among short-statured people. The etymology of the word is not good, but some of us have made it our own. We add an e with an accent at the end, so now it's midgeté—sort of a French version. I have a friend—not a dwarf—who's an alchemist of sorts. He concocted a men's cologne that he calls Midgeté Midgeté. He gave me a bottle as a gift. I was thinking, 'We should totally put this on the market.' You know how Jessica Simpson and Beyoncé have signature perfumes and make a mint? I'm thinking this cologne could be my ticket to fortune. When this Game of Thrones thing winds down, Midgeté Midgeté could be my next thing."
18. Dinklage and writer-director Sacha Gervasi have spent years writing and producing a film called My Dinner with Hervé, which is about the final days of French actor Hervé Villechaize (known for playing the evil henchman Nick Nack in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun). Hervé killed himself not too long after an interview he had with Gervasi in 1993.