Peter Dinklage will star in the upcoming HBO movie My Dinner with Hervé, but the Game of Thrones star’s first photo as Herve Villechaize is already under fire. HBO released a press photo of Dinklage in his role as the late Fantasy Island star alongside co-star Jamie Dornan, who plays fictional celebrity journalist Danny Tate in the Sacha Gervasi film.
My Dinner With Hervé will tell the story of the unlikely friendship between Herve Villechaize and struggling journalist Danny Tate after “a wild night in Los Angeles results in life-changing consequences for both,” according to Deadline. Screenwriter Gervasi was actually the last person to interview Villechaize before his death at age 50, and the Tate role is drawn from his real-life experiences. Herve Villechaize committed suicide by gunshot in 1993 shortly after the night depicted in the HBO film.
Now, some critics are accusing the film of “whitewashing” by casting Dinklage in the role as Herve Villechaize. Villechaize was a French actor of British and Filipino descent and was best known for his role as Nick Nack in the James Bond classic The Man with the Golden Gun and as Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo on the late ’70s/early ’80s ABC series Fantasy Island. Herve was born with an endocrine disorder that caused him to suffer from proportionate dwarfism. The actor was only three feet, 10 inches tall when he died at age 50, so there’s no doubt that there were few choices when looking to cast an actor to play the late TV star.
— HBO PR (@HBOPR) June 23, 2017
But many Villechaize fans took issue with the choice of Dinklage for the role despite the fact that the Emmy-winning star was heavily involved in the project from the beginning.
After the HBO photo was posted, accusations of Hollywood “whitewashing,” where Asian/Pacific Islanders are portrayed by white actors, began flying. Some people slammed Dinklage, saying the actor should have known better than to take on a role that should have gone to an actor of Filipino descent.
— Simon Anicich (@simonanicich) June 25, 2017
No actors who look more like #HerveVillechaize???
— M Monroe (@HabitualHabitue) June 24, 2017
— Vilissa Thompson (@VilissaThompson) June 24, 2017
— Toronto Street Style (@TorontoVerve) June 24, 2017
Even little people acting roles can't escape whitewashing: Peter Dinklage is starring in a movie about Tattoo from Fantasy Island
— iThad (@ThadOchocinco) May 21, 2017
Peter Dinklage first talked about developing the script for the Herve Villechaize film in a 2012 interview with the New York Times, and he is now an executive producer on the HBO project. The four-foot,five-inch actor, best known for his Emmy-winning run as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, looks nothing like Herve Villechaize aside from his similar stature. Dinklage was born in New Jersey to American parents while Villechaize hailed from France and was of half-English and half-Filipino decent on his father’s side.
Claims of Hollywood whitewashing are nothing new. Earlier this year, white actor Zach McGowan was cast as Hawaiian native Benehakaka Kanahele in the WWII film Ni’ihau. In addition, Emma Stone was cast as a half-Hawaiian/half-Chinese character in the movie Aloha, and Scarlett Johansson received whitewashing flack after being cast as the lead in Ghost in the Shell, a film that was adapted from Japanese amine.
My Dinner With Hervé does not yet have a release date.
[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TNT]