Peter Dinklage Responds To Claims Of Whitewashing

"The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover."

You may not know the name but you definitely would recognise Hervé Villechaize, the iconic actor who starred in Fantasy Island as Tattoo, Mr Roarke's assistant, or as Nick Nack in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Now, Villechaize is the focus of an upcoming HBO film, My Dinner with Hervé, which stars Peter Dinklage. The film also stars Jamie Dornan as Sacha Gervasi, a journalist sent to interview Villechaize in what would be his final days.

After suffering from chronic health issues and a deteriorating career, Villechaize died by suicide in 1993.

Dinklage has been working on the film alongside Gervasi, in 2012 they revealed to The New York Times that they had been working on the script "for years".

"After he killed himself," Dinklage said in the interview, "Sacha realised Hervé’s interview was a suicide note".

The eventual arrival of the film was met with backlash, with many believing Villechaize to be half-Filipino, criticising the project for whitewashing.

In a recent chat with Entertainment Weekly Dinklage addressed the controversy saying, "The internet is the best thing and the worst thing."

"The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover," Dinklage continued, "Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly."

Villechaize alongside his 'Fantasy Island' co-star Ricardo Montalban and guest star Sammy Davis Jr. Image: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images.

Dinklage went on to explain his thoughts when it came to the criticism of whitewashing saying, "But Hervé wasn’t Filipino. 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."

"So it’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information. I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or sense of justice because I feel the exact same way when there’s some weird racial profile," the Game of Thrones actor said. "But these people 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."

"People are jumping to conclusions based on a man’s appearance alone and that saddens me."

As to where the claim that Villechaize was half-Filipino originated from, Dinklage assumed it was due to his two most notable roles, "The Man with the Golden Gun, which was shot in Southeast Asia, and Fantasy Island, where he’s on an island, and that, compounded with how he looked, made some think he must be from that part of the world," the actor summarised.

Villechaize was eventually fired from Fantasy Island after demanding equal pay on par with his co-star  Ricardo Montalbán. There were also many stories of Villechaize clashing with producers and propositioning actresses on the show.

Roger Moore told an audience in 2016 that the actor was "a sex maniac" who boasted about having sex with over 30 women while shooting The Man with the Golden Gun. "He had a lust for ladies, unnatural," Moore said.

My Dinner with Hervé will premiere on HBO on October 20.

Read the full interview with Dinklage here.

Featured image: Getty.