Peter Dinklage: “I owe Sophie Turner ten dollars now.”

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One of the best things I’ve experienced this year was going to Singapore and meeting Peter Dinklage, Hugh Jackman and Fan Bingbing at the X-Men: Days Of Future Past press junket in Singapore, 14-15 May 2014. I was there to cover the blue carpet event, as well as watch and review the movie, and participate in face-to-face interviews.

Now, those interviews will be published in the magazine, and they are riddled with spoilers, so I’m not going to write them here and spoil them for you. (Both Dinklage and Jackman implored us journalists not to write any spoilers so I’m partly respecting their wishes and partly not being a jerk in general.) However, there are some key highlights from my conversation with Peter Dinklage that may be of interest to some people so I’m putting them here. These highlights are, of course, non-spoilery about DOFP because what do you know? It’s about Game Of Thrones.

Funnily enough, I steered clear from any GoT-related topics (it was in the brief that was given to us by the studio: “please do not ask questions related to any other film/TV series outside of X-Men: Days Of Future Past”.) Nobody is expected to obey that rule fully, but in the case of Mr. Dinklage, I didn’t even have to bring it up myself before the great actor himself dropped the series’ name into conversation. As he said, “I only speak about that because I have more history with it.” Far be it from me to stop him from speaking about it.

I even managed to ‘connect’ another one of my interviews to him. I did a phoner with Sophie Turner a while ago, in which the young Miss Turner practically shipped Tyrion and Sansa. So I mentioned this to Mr. Dinklage and got a great answer from him! It really doesn’t matter what movie you’re promoting – Game Of Thrones will win and it will not die.

Here are the highlights…

Was that your real hair in X-Men: Days Of Future Past?

Yes, it was. It’s all me with a lot of product. i do that TV show, Game Of Thrones, where my character has longer hair. I can’t grow it back fast enough for the next season so I keep it long while we’re doing that TV show until anything changes. I walked up to the make-up and hair trailer of the X-Men movie and they were, like, “Perfect! We’re just gonna go…” and they went crazy with it. They made it look quite ’70s. There was a hard turtle shell on top of my head with that amount of product.

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HBO Asia’s Game Of Thrones Writing Competition and Prize

Last April, a few weeks after I officially joined Total Film Indonesia magazine as features editor (after having been their contributor for two years), I was assigned to write the article of HBO’s Game Of Thrones Season 2. And gladly I did that because I love the series, I am familiar with the works of George R. R. martin and this whole thing is like a walk in the part for me.

 

The article included  exclusive interviews with Michelle Fairley, who plays Catelyn Stark, and Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow – an opportunity given to us by HBO Asia, who kindly let us submit questions during a press junket. (We didn’t go there ourselves due to time constraints but I’m happy enough to get an exclusive so I wasn’t complaining.) So I wrote those six pages of articles, with the two interviews, included the quiz, and submitted it before the deadline and I was done. Then The Avengers happened and my life was consumed by  it and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and everything else became irrelevant.

Several days ago, my phone rang with a call from HBO Asia’s rep in Indonesia. After exchanging pleasantries, the rep then told me, “We’d like to invite you for lunch on Thursday because your article has been nominated as a winner for the Game Of Thrones S2 writing competition.” My first reaction was, “A writing competition? What competition?” (Long story short – it wasn’t that they didn’t tell us about it. They did tell us about it but the wrong person who represented us during the announcement forgot to inform the rest of us of the competition.) Despite my puzzlement, I confirmed my attendance to the lunch event anyway.

So earlier today I went there and what happened was that our magazine became the winner of HBO Asia’s Game Of Thrones S2 writing competition for magazine category. They awarded us with none other than the A Game Of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition). And, naturally, it was pure awesomeness.

I’ve heard rumors of a Game Of Thrones board game before but since games – board ones or otherwise – never interested me, I didn’t bother looking for information on it. But now that I’ve found out about its existence and held it in my hands, I have to admit that it looks mighty cool. And complicated. There doesn’t seem to be a way I can play this without my head spinning so I will just show you a few pictures of how it looks like without explaining the details.

  

Reading the back of the box [right], the gist I got was that the game is about making our way to the Iron Throne during a war between the families of Westeros. (I think as players, we represent the Houses?) But I could be wrong because I only had time to skim through the whole thing before writing this report. Seeing the pieces inside the box [middle] I felt slightly intimidated by their number – there are two boards, paper fortresses, flat pieces, character cards and lord knows what else. Don’t get me wrong – it looks fun, but also complicated.

My colleagues and I in TFI‘s editorial team will be playing this game soon (maybe after our deadline at the end of this month). On the meantime, I have to read the guidelines… and maybe find some kind of A Game Of Thrones: The Board Game 101 on the Internet. (In case you’re wondering, I’m hoping to play as House Targaryen in this game.)

Before I sign off, I want to thank HBO Asia for the prize (and the lunch and the conversation!) They really are good at building relations with their business partners. Thumbs up.

Shorter and Better: 2012 is Year of the Dwarves

Any year is a good year to be a dwarf if you’re under five feet tall and often get labeled as a ‘person of short stature’. But 2012 is the year where we get to celebrate the Year Of The Dwarves. Forget dragons – dwarves are the thing that will save you from danger. Or boredom. Or box office ruins. Especially if you’re a filmmaker with a high-profile project coming out this year.

This year we get four major live feature productions – three on the big screens and one on television – where diminutive, smaller-than-the-rest-of-the-poulation men with fierce fighting prowess, wisdom of the ages and/or excellent comedic timing steal the show from their normal-sized counterparts. There’s going to dwarves for all seasons if you care to turn your eyes into what Hollywood has to offer us in cinema and TV. And there is a rock solid guarantee that you will not be disappointed with this new breed of action heroes.

Earlier this year, in one incarnation of Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale of Snow White called Mirror Mirror (directed by Tarsem Singh) ‘the little people’ had the honor of outwitting a handsome and statuesque heartthrob with long legs not once, but twice, before helping him to get the girl. Sometime later, in a land called Westeros, a dwarf slapped a bratty young king and put him in his place while politicking around the king’s court while bedding the beautiful ladies. This summer, eight rebellious dwarves fought in a revolution with yet another Snow White in the Kirsten Stewart-starring Snow White And The Huntsman. And at the end of this year when J.R.R. Tolkien’s first masterpiece comes to live in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, there won’t just be one pint-sized action hero with big feet adventuring in Middle Earth. This action hero gets 13 Dwarf companions. THIRTEEN!

And will you look at the people who are playing these dwarves: Martin Klebba. Ian McShane. Toby Jones. Ray Winstone. Nick Frost. Richard Armitage. And the Biggie: Peter Dinklage.

Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Peter Dinklage, mind you. This is your cue to affix the title Lord Honorable or add The Grand Duke Of Awesome in front of his name. Also, it wouldn’t be remiss to bow and curtsy before him.

There is so much talent from anyone playing dwarf characters on screen that it’s virtually impossible for us to not acknowledge them as The Awesomest People Ever this year. Tyrion Lannister has always been everyone’s favorite Game Of Thrones character (including Charles Dance’s, who plays Tyrion’s dad Tywin). The seven dwarves had the funniest lines and scenes in Mirror Mirror. The eight dwarves, who were actually normal-sized actors rendered by special effects to transform into short Narnia-esque creatures saved Huntsman from utter pointlessness. With this track record, plus their own reputable fame from the already-legendary book, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and his merry band of dwarves can only amaze us further in The Hobbit. What else is there to say?

A toast, then, to celebrate the best characters in the fantasy genre this year. Not dragons, not sorcerers, not even kick-ass princes with swords as long as their limbs… but dwarves. Short, rowdy and carefree people who love a good time, save you from evil rulers and will fight with you and for you to the end. Here’s to the dwarves!

GAME OF THRONES

Dwarf: 1

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

*

MIRROR MIRROR

Dwarves: 7

Danny Woodburn as Grimm
Martin Klebba as Butcher
Sebastian Saraceno as Wolf
Jordan Prentice as Napoleon
Mark Povinelli as Half Pint
Joe Gnoffo as Grub
Ronald Lee Clark as Chuckles

*

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

Dwarves: 8

Ian McShane as Beith
Johnny Harris as Quert
Bob Hoskins as Muir
Toby Jones as Coll
Eddie Marsan as Duir
Brian Gleeson as Gus
Ray Winstone as Gort
Nick Frost as Nion

*

THE HOBBIT

Dwarves: 13

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Aidan Turner as Kíli
Dean O’Gorman as Fíli
Mark Hadlow as Dori
Jed Brophy as Nori
Adam Brown as Ori
John Callen as Óin
Peter Hambleton as Glóin
William Kircher as Bifur
James Nesbitt as Bofur
Stephen Hunter as Bombur

HBO’s Game Of Thrones

Later this month, Indonesia – and I think the rest of Asia – will be able to watch Game of Thrones on HBO. It’s a new 10-episode TV series starring Lord of the Rings‘ Sean Bean, 300‘s Lena Headey, The Station Agent and Prince Caspian‘s Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Mark Addy and a group of talented young ensemble cast that will have a bright future if they can keep performing the way they do in this show.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, this is of course the on-screen adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s classic fantasy novel, A Game Of Thrones, the first in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series. It’s a story set in a fantasy realm called Westeros and deals with the positively medieval intrigue and politics of the land’s most influential families. Despite bearing the ‘fantasy’ label, the story is rooted heavily in reality (particularly The War of the Roses in England’s history) so, unlike LOTR, it has a strong historical feel to it.

The series is not for everyone (for one, the mature themes alone are enough reason for parents to bar the television from the kids during the show’s broadcast) and it has no obvious ‘movie star’ among the cast to immediately appeal to everyone (especially in Indonesia, because people here are usually more concerned about the ‘who’ than the ‘what’ when it comes to movies). The majority of the series’ population can also annoy the hell out of you with their misbehavior and the whole story is pretty dark. Furthermore, because of the very adult nature of the series, many parts of the series will definitely be censored so I’m not sure if GoT will be successful at all in Indonesia.

However, if you’re wondering if it’s worth spending an hour of your time to watch… the answer is a resounding yes. It’s a very well-made series, thoughtfully crafted and brilliantly executed, with performers that are simply flawless. There are not many fantasy series on television that deals with serious drama the way LOTR deals with it in cinema. It’s as if HBO is making a statement with this series, showing everybody else the correct way to make a fantasy show on TV. So, if you appreciate good filmmaking, this is an example of how any TV show should be done in all aspects.

Lord Eddard Stark is one of Sean Bean’s finest character performances so those who still remember how charismatic his Boromir was in LOTR will want to see him in all his glory here. I am truly glad that the show’s creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, picked him to play Ned Stark – there can never be anyone else in this role, in my opinion – and that Bean agreed to play him. And then there’s Peter Dinklage, one of the absolutely best two ‘small’-sized actors working in movies right now (the other being Warwick Davis), who gives a stunning performance as The Imp, Tyrion Lannister. If you thought he was brilliant in The Station Agent? Well, here he is even more brilliant.

Then there ‘s a plethora of amazing female characters and performers. Headey as the wicked Cersei Lannister and Michelle Fairley as the strong and graceful Catelyn Tully are only two of the many amazing talents showcased here. At the head of these amazing performances is Emilia Clarke, a practically unknown actress from London, England, who plays the deliciously sensual and also very empowering Daenerys Targaryen. I salute Clarke for snagging this role – she is perfect all the way through and she can only get better.

A hopeful note for the prospect of this series in Indonesia is the fact that the books have been selling like peanuts and become bestsellers in the bookstore I work in. We’ve been selling the book and its three sequels, A Clash Of Kings, A Storm Of Swords and A Feast For Crows, since 2008 and we are constantly replenishing the stock. This series, along with Tolkien’s works, are the top-selling fantasy books in the bookstore. In the past three months, thanks to the Game of Thrones buzz in the US, the sale of Martin’s books have put the Fantasy category on top of the Romance category (which usually takes top spot) in the bookstore’s internal bestsellers list. This means that the people here are reading… they know the books (or they’re getting familiar with it) and they like it. So, if the series is played here officially, there’s a very good chance that the readership will become its viewership – it’s an instant fanbase, which is always a good thing.

Even though I’ve already watched the series in its entirety, I plan on watching it again on TV when it officially airs in HBO. It’s a series worth following at least two or three times over and investing in because the entertainment value is so high. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth your time or not… the answer is yes. Do enjoy it and let the ‘games’ astound you.

Enjoy this photo of the GoT cast from EW.com (from San Diego Comic-Con 2011), just so you can feast your eyes on the gorgeousness of the cast:

(My article on Game of Thrones will be published in Total Film Indonesia’s next issue.)