Peter Dinklage

September 14, 2023

When I was writing Living in Oblivion, the first and second acts came easily. But I struggled hard with the third. One day, I was expressing my frustration to my wife, Jane Gil. She looked up from her sandwich and said, “Look, Part 1 is a dream, Part 2 is a dream; why don’t you make Part 3 about shooting a dream sequence?”

Instantly, the image came to me of a dwarf erupting in fury at the director (Steve Buscemi) for casting him in a Dream Sequence. I named him Tito after the brutal dictator of Yugoslavia. Little did I know this would later enable me to have Catherine Keener mistakenly call him Toto.

Writing the part was easy. Casting it was not. I thought all I had to do was find someone who was three feet tall. Why did I think that? Because I was a fool.

The first few actors who came in fit the height requirement but faltered as soon as they opened their mouths. I slowly realized I’d written a part that required a real actor. My friend, Kevin Corrigan, whom I’d cast as the stoner assistant cameraman in Part 1, told me he knew a small person working in a fax store somewhere in Brooklyn. Kevin said the guy had majored in Theatre at Bennington College. He also told me the guy had no phone and he didn’t remember the name of the fax store.

Miraculously, my casting director, Marcia Shulman, located the actor and brought him in for an audition. He was astonishing. I cast him immediately. This is how Peter Dinklage came into my consciousness and created the part of Tito in Living in Oblivion.

What I loved most about Peter’s performance was that he understood Tito could be a total prick. He relished making Steve Buscemi’s life miserable. He was so good that on the day he threw his tantrum telling Steve he could “take this Dream Sequence and stick it up your ass!” the entire crew (mostly day hires working for free) slowly left the set thinking he was serious and that the whole shoot was over.

It is my absolute conviction that the film would not have worked if Peter Dinklage had not played that part. After the film was released, I wrote several letters to my agency about Peter, who at that time had no representation. I wish I’d saved the response that finally came. I remember it word for word.

“Thank you for your note about Mr. Dinklage. He is indeed splendid in your film. Unfortunately, we can see no use for him at this time. However, we would highly encourage you to contact our Specialty and Circus division.”

Ultimately, Peter Dinklage did not need my letters. He forged his own path, and for that, he will forever have my greatest admiration and esteem.

Learn more about Living in Oblivion here.


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Independent Filmmaker & Musician