Peter Dinklage stole the show in The Station Agent. In The Baxter, he is certainly the comic relief. He's the wedding planner for Michael Showalter and Elizabeth Banks.
Peter plays a very flirtatious character; one that he really enjoyed. And he even used this film for his own benefit. He had recently gotten married after production wrapped on this.
Read up on what lessons he learned:
As the wedding planner, you flirt with The Baxter.
Peter Dinklage: True, but I think Benson flirts with everybody to make a buck, to make a wedding.
Was ‘Hello, Brooklyn' scripted or your line?
Peter Dinklage: Ah, that was improv. I did many versions of the come on, and that was the last, I think the guy was a member of the crew or something. Just throw 'em in there, something to flirt.
Was the casting just because of friendship or what?
Peter Dinklage: Yeah, I think in New York - most of us are from New York that are in the movie. It's a huge city, but with a close group of actors and writers and directors and stuff. I've known Michael for quite some time, just as a friend. You know, very talented people attract each other, (laughter) My humor does not come out in print, does it? I'm going to sound so arrogant. Just put ‘hee hee' in print. That's how it comes about. With independent films, it's good to use people you know. You know what they can do, and they can be fun to hang out with.
What has been your best experience at a wedding?
Peter Dinklage: I can't remember one, but my brother - I wish he was here, he's a violinist. Back in the day, violinists make good money playing weddings. He's graduated from all that now. He once played a wedding, he played a myriad of them. He once played a wedding where the groom was smoking during the ceremony. It was like at a biker wedding in a church. The priest must have been paid a couple extra bucks or something because the guy was literally like (mimics smoking and exhaling) ‘I do.' He exhaled smoke to say, ‘I do.' So I think that's pretty funny, but I'm stealing my brother's story. But I always just end up getting drunk. I don't know. Weddings are for people to get drunk. (laughter) Why do you laugh? Are you judging me? Yeah, I just got married too.
Congratulations! Was there any research your role from your wedding?
Peter Dinklage: I learned what not to do. I eloped. I think weddings are beautiful, but man, they can become the event itself. You don't get to see your bride or groom in all the melee. And it costs so much money to get married. I don't know. But I think that they're beautiful. But we just decided to save a buck.
Are you saving money for the honeymoon?
Peter Dinklage: Well ... I don't know. Maybe one day if we ever go on one. (fake pitiful crying)
Where did you elope to?
Peter Dinklage: We got hitched in Vegas, yo. I'm very private about that stuff. I can't believe I just told you all that. But we're talking about weddings, and I had just gotten married, so I guess it's inevitable.
In the scene walking up and down street where you're lost, was that all improv?
Peter Dinklage: That's the joy about working with somebody as funny as Michael because he's also an actor. He trusts everybody he's working with. I think you can do all your homework, but some of the best stuff happens when you get to set and the conditions that you're in and the spontaneity of it. A lot of good directors work that way. Directors like that attract actors because they're not so constrained to what's on the page. And it's also good that he's the writer too, because he can embellish and change things. And I have the utmost respect for writers. I don't like to change things without their consent or anything. I kind of keep that in check a little bit, how much you're improving and stuff, but when the director is the writer and the star and you're working with him. It's easier access.
Did you do your own improv?
Peter Dinklage: A little bit. Not as much. Just a little bit here and there like the ‘Hello, Brooklyn.' Stuff like that. Little fussy little things that I needed to add.
You said Benson flirts with everyone. Did you base the character on any wedding planner?
Peter Dinklage: (flirtatiously) I don't know, want to get out of here and talk about it some more? I mean, I flirt with everybody. That's what I meant to say. No, we were just joking about that. Me and Mike talked about that, so it's very funny. Like, ‘Maybe he's not even gay. Maybe he's like totally everything - like he'll come onto a glass or something.' (sees glass of water, which journalist moves away from him) I think Benson is quite the man's man. But that doesn't answer your question. Oh, no. I invented him. I don't know where he came from - from the bowels of my weirdness. I have no idea where he comes from. I wish I was one of those actors that did more homework. I should have gone to a wedding planning school. I just make it up.
How was it working with Elizabeth Banks? Have you seen her in The 40Year Old Virgin?
Peter Dinklage: She's great. She's so perfect in that role. You guys all saw it right? No, I haven't seen Virgin yet. Is that hilarious? I got to see it. Well Paul is the back, but like Elizabeth, he's like one of these good-looking people who just have - that's why I like Cary Grant. I think that he's just a genius because here's this handsome leading man, but he can be so foolish and so funny. I love that: the beautiful people when they're funny. But yeah, she's great, can't wait to see that movie.
How informal was it on set working with friends? Was it like work or was there more goofing around?
Peter Dinklage: No, it is work. I don't want to make it out like it's like camp or something. Get down to the work. You need to make a movie with a low budget you've got to be professionals about it. It's not hard work. There's people digging coal mines. It's fun hanging out with your friends and making a movie. I'm sorry, but it is. Actors who say it's so grueling, I don't know. There are worse things.
Was this role written for you in mind?
Peter Dinklage: I don't know if Michael wrote it for me. I never asked him. I need to go in the next room.
Being a man of your stature, uh, I'm trying to be PC. Do you go for auditions for roles of that nature?
Peter Dinklage: Please don't be PC. I don't really audition anymore. I don't have to. (laughter)
Are you able to shift people's perceptions of the character because they want you in the movie?
Peter Dinklage: I hope so. I can only do what I can do and do my best job. Yeah, I have played roles that aren't specific to somebody who's a dwarf. They weren't written that way. I think a lot of time with scripts, they don't have to be specifically written for somebody my size because I think the problem with a lot of scripts out there that I've read for somebody my size is that you're constantly reminded that I'm my size, in the written word, in the dialogue. That's not really the reality of being someone who is my size. You occasionally get a couple looks. It comes up once in a blue moon - like in interviews like this. I'm so fine with this. It's reality. I think what I'm saying is that if you're constantly hitting the audience over the head with it, constantly reminding them, they don't have to. There I am on the screen. It's obvious that I am under five feet tall. They don't need to be reminded all the time. I don't know if that answers your question. But yes, I do play roles that are written specifically for people my size, that kind of narrows things down a little. But I'm not interested in ‘if the suit fits.' You know what I mean? I have no judgment about actors my size wearing outfits. Like, because the outfit fits, like an Ewok thing or something. It's not really interesting. It's not why I do what I do why I do this. But then again, I don't want to criticize anyone who does that either because it's an honest occupation.
What's the worst or most insulting offer you've gotten along those lines?
Peter Dinklage: Back in the day, I have had. I don't know. Just like commercials, like dressing up like a trash can or something - being inside a trash can. It's so symbolic like how some actors are treated, especially short actors. I should have taken it because that would have been too perfect, like, ‘I'm a trash can. Put your trash in me.' But I'm 36. I've lived my life. I don't want to get all preachy, but I'm not easily offended anymore. I was when I was younger. But just like anybody, any difference, any racism. You just get a thick skin and know what's important in life, hopefully. (switches gears) G-d, this is about a comedy. I love you guys. It's like self-help here.
But the point is you're more than just comic relief.
Peter Dinklage: But I also like to be comic relief too. I also like to have fun with my size too, if it's in good taste. But I'm the only judge of that I guess.
What roles in general are the most interesting to you?
Peter Dinklage: That's the joy of being an actor. Everything's different, and that's what I try to do, every role being different from the last. And speaking of making them real, that's a tough question because it depends on the rating. It all depends on the script, what's on the page there.
What's your next project?
Peter Dinklage: I got a movie coming out that Sidney Lumet directed. It's with Vin Diesel and called Find Me Guilty. It's really cool. I play a lawyer. Sidney Lumet is the master of that stuff - The Verdict. I kept reminding myself that I was working with Sidney Lumet. The man made Dog Day Afternoon, and he's talking to me about a scene. That's really cool.
He's the consummate actor's director.
Peter Dinklage: You rehearse for two weeks. You ever read his book, Making Movies? That's what happens for two weeks. Tape outline, talk like this. That's why he gets great performances. He gets good actors, but he makes them better. So I have that, and I'm working on this TV show right now Threshhold on CBS. Which is really cool. I've never done a TV show, so I sort of wanted to jump into something like that.
This the David Goyer one?
Peter Dinklage: Yeah. He's great. It's got a great group, great writing, another script that attracted me to it. Charles Dutton, Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner, Brian Van Holt and Rob Benedict are the main players. It's really cool and scary as all f*ck. It's really f*ckin' scary. I play Arthur Ramsey who's a brilliant mathematician and linguist. It's like a team of experts all in their different fields I brought together to solve this phenomenon. It's cool. It's really cool.
The Baxter opens in limited theaters in New York on August 26th, on September 2nd in Los Angeles and nationwide soon after that. It's a cute film for anyone looking for that one true love.