You might think that after Peter Dinklage recently took Disney to task for the upcoming live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that other dwarf actors would have rallied behind Dinklage. In at least a few cases, however, you’d be dead wrong. Now a number of actors with dwarfism are calling out the Game of Thrones star, and some are even accusing him of trying to eliminate competition.
Late last week, The Daily Mail posted a video from Dylan Postl, who played the leprechaun Hornswoggle on the WWE for a decade. Postl says Peter Dinklage did a lot more harm than good to actors with dwarfism by forcing Disney into a corner. “It makes me so sick to my stomach to think that there are seven roles for dwarfs that can’t get normal acting roles, or very few and far between roles” Postl said, “and now they are gone because of this guy.” Postl related his own experience, pointing out that physically he would never be able to realize his dream of being a WWE superstar wrestler, and that the chance to play Hornswoggle gave him an opportunity he wouldn’t otherwise have if he didn’t have dwarfism. You can watch Postl’s entire statement below.
The 62-year-old actor Jeff Brooks chimed in, saying that — unlike Peter Dinklage — he never found the dwarfs of Snow White to be offensive. Brooks said his very first acting role was Josh the Gnome and he has similarly been offered roles like those of Christmas elves and leprechauns, and has rarely found offense in any of them. He also shared some worry over how quickly Disney changed its tune: “it scares me that Disney would change a decision that big over the comment of one actor. They have been too quick here.”
The Daily Mail also spoke with Lauren Brooks, a talent agent who has been representing Little People in the entertainment industry for 15 years. She implied Peter Dinklage could have a selfish motivation for his comments, saying, “If he doesn’t want the competition then that is pretty selfish for him to deny other people the right to work.”
Considering the trends started by Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it may very well be Katrina Kemp’s point of view that is the most realistic. The Daily Mail says Kemp is a 31-year-old actor with dwarfism, and she says her colleagues’s attacks on Peter Dinklage are pointless. She doesn’t think it’s very likely Disney ever intended to use actors with dwarfism for the upcoming Snow White remake, but rather planned to digitally manipulate other actors to make them appear shorter.
In fact, not only did another famous dwarf actor call out the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman for such casting, but he used Peter Dinklage’s name in his attack. Warwick Davis of Star Wars fame bashed the Chris Hemsworth film for using CGI to shrink down actors like Ian McShane and Nick Frost rather than casting actors with dwarfism. “My colleague Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for his performance in Game of Thrones, proving that short actors need roles that will not only challenge them, but allow them to express themselves as actors in their own right,” Dinklage told E! Online in 2012. He also compared the pactice of digitally shrinking actors to look like dwarfs to using blackface.
It may prove instructive to remember that — in spite of the complaints from Postl and others — when Disney responded to Peter Dinklage’s comments last week, the studio did not, in fact, say they were canceling the dwarf roles. The studio’s statement said they were “taking a different approach with these seven characters.” Yes, it could mean they’re eliminating the dwarfs from the story. It could also mean they fully intend to include the characters but, perhaps, will portray them in a less clownish manner than they are in the 1937 animated film. The film is far from having a firm release date, so it will likely be a while before we know exactly what Disney has planned.