Peter Dinklage, Jamie Dornan, and Director Sacha Gervasi Reflect on Their New HBO Film, MY DINNER WITH HERVÉ

— October 10, 2018

Inspired by director Sacha Gervasi’s own experiences, MY DINNER WITH HERVÉ explores the unlikely friendship between struggling journalist Danny Tate (a character loosely based on Gervasi who’s played by Jamie Dornan) and actor Hervé Villechaize (Peter Dinklage), the world’s most famous knife-wielding French dwarf actor who starred in FANTASY ISLAND and The Man with the Golden Gun. The film centres around Tate’s final encounter with Villechaize as it unfolds over one wild night in L.A. Prior to the film’s premiere on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO Canada, Gervasi, Dinklage, and Dornan sat down with media in New York to reveal what it took to get into character, and the message they hope the audience takes away from this story. On why the film took more than a decade to complete: Sacha Gervasi (SG): “Peter [Dinklage] and I have been trying to make the film for the past 15 years, so waiting this long was certainly not the plan. Sometimes in life things happen in the way and at the time they are meant to. For me there is something special about the film coming out exactly 25 years after I said goodbye to Hervé for the last time at the Universal Sheraton.” Peter Dinklage (PD): “Years. All my scenes took years. We shot Jamie’s about five minutes. Mine took 14 years…it probably took so long because it was so personal, with Sacha. It’s hard to let something go out into the world, out into the ether, when it’s that close to you.” On the process of portraying the characters authentically: PD: “His voice is probably more well-known than he is, so before I did anything else, I had to get that - for myself if no one else. And if I couldn’t do that, I don’t think I should have done the role. That was very specific.” Jamie Dornan (JD): “Of course, I’m playing a version of Sacha, but I never saw a script where he was called Sacha Gervasi - it was always its own thing. We made a choice very early to have [Danny Tait] be Irish, so I’d keep my own accent because we didn’t think it added anything for him to be English.” SG: “…The thing that Jamie did brilliantly was he said, ‘Look, I’m going to do it in my own accent.’ So, he was able to become Danny Tate and make it really his own, versus some sort of, you know, stupid kind of version of me.” Sacha Gervasi on changing the discourse around Hervé’s legacy: SG: “I just wanted to tell the truth about the person I had actually met, rather than the persona he had from the show. I went into the interview having pre-judged Hervé. I thought our encounter would be no more than a good dinner party story for my friends back in London – I mean, how could this surreal Fellini-esque creature be a real human being? But he was. The film is about how dangerous it can be to judge. Who is this person you are looking at, once you knock down the wall between you and see them as they really are, rather than just seeing the colour of their skin, or how tall they are? …I promised to tell his story and even though in the end, it took a quarter of a century to do it, I finally managed to get it done!” On addressing a main message in the film about how people are sometimes treated unfairly: SG: “We’re living in an era where minorities are discarded and written off, and it’s important for people to have their voices heard. Stand up for themselves, and to say: I don’t care that I’m different, I’m a human being. It doesn’t matter if I’m three foot ten - look beyond how I look.” PD: “I think it’s different when you get a writer who’s willing to write a more complicated character for someone my size. But you know, if you turn on the TV around Christmastime, is it different? But I understand it, I’m not judging it. People need to work…I think actually Hervé had a more open philosophy about it, because he was okay playing Nick Nack and all these roles that were geared for his size…He had a great sense of humour. As do I, about myself…But there’s also some anger in there, and obviously, how Hervé ended his life, that’s a lot of pain there. And I can’t help but think a lot of that contributed to a certain amount of anguish, spiritually.” On what they hope the audience will take away from this film: SG: “If the audience connects with the film and ends up caring about these two characters, who look so incredibly different but are ultimately so similar, I hope they are provoked into thinking about how we all sometimes rush to judgment without thinking, without knowing the full truth. Perhaps some will consider their own lives and ask, ‘Is there something in my life that I am not taking responsibility for?’ That would certainly be wonderful. But if the audience just ends up having a great time, Peter, Jamie and I would be more than thrilled with that, too!”