Game of Thrones and Avengers: Infinity War actor Peter Dinklage is facing outrage after being cast in the upcoming HBO movie My Dinner with Herve. Dinklage will play the lead role of Fantasy Island star Herve Villechaize.
A number of people took to Twitter to criticize the casting of Dinklage as Villechaize because they believe Villechaize was half-Filipino.
— The Nerds of Color #NOC5th (@TheNerdsofColor) August 24, 2018
— OR4Now (@Or4Now) August 25, 2018
Umm Herve Villechaize is FILIPINO!!!! NOT WHITE!
— BeefyBoyStyle (@imjaydanz) August 25, 2018
Exactly. Putting him in a wig and a fake accent takes a part away from an Asian actor. A part that could have launched a career. Shame on you @HBO
— ??Alexandra Mary?? (@SweetTale4u) August 26, 2018
didnt know peter dinklage was filipino wow ?
— jennifer legayada m****** (@pinayputa) August 26, 2018
um, is Dinklage in actual yellowface? who thought this was a good idea? https://t.co/y4m2ScnldQ
— Marc Andreyko (@marcandreyko) August 24, 2018
The thing is, Herve Villechaize wasn’t half-Filipino or any percentage for that matter. He was, in fact, French, German, and English. So, you have a group of people claiming that Dinklage is applying “yellowface,” when in fact he isn’t.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Peter Dinklage addressed the claims of yellowface against him.
“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. Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly. It says [Villechiaze was half-Filipino] on Wikipedia. Family members can’t change information on there. My daughter’s name was “Zelig” on Wikipedia for a long time. Her name is not Zelig. I don’t know who is able to put information up, but there are so many things on there that aren’t true.
There’s this term “whitewashing.” I completely understand that. 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. 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. He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff. This [movie] isn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Personally, I would never do that, and I haven’t done that, because he wasn’t. People are jumping to conclusions based on a man’s appearance alone and that saddens me.”
Dinklage then speculated on how people might have been confused about Villechaize’s ethnicity:
“Maybe people were thinking of 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. But that’s also part of the mystery and fun of this movie. He was so many things and he was proud of the myth of himself as well. Everybody I met — his brother, his girlfriend, people who worked with him — said he was ‘so proud.’ If [being Filipino] was part of his heritage he would have been very proud of that. Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too. But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, ‘Okay, calm down.'”
Because of a mix of poor citation on the popular site, and internet outrage mob, and too much free time, a talented actor found himself in the crosshairs of a mob for something he didn’t even do.
Peter Dinklage can be seen as Hervé Villechaize on HBO on Saturday, October 20, 2018.