There are no guarantees in love.
Oftentimes, we’re delivered a picture-perfect fantasy of what love entails: flawless, attractive people coming together, swept up in uncontrollable passion, overcoming minor obstacles in their way with aplomb, and proving to the world that they were destined to find each other. In reality, love is something far more unpredictable, uncontrollable, and powerful.
Just look at Peter Dinklage: the man has become a household name due to his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, but his journey to find the right one hadn’t always been quite as successful or exhilarating. That is, until he met the woman of his dreams: theatre director Erica Schmidt. When their paths crossed, they didn’t think the initial connection would eventually morph into a long-term commitment, but Peter proved her wrong in every single way. What’s so precious about their relationship is that they don’t let societal expectations determine the state of their marriage, and a lot of that has to do with Peter’s unique but admirable approach to love.
Here’s what he says about love and what’s led him to forge such a beautiful, supportive partnership with Erica:
Peter asserts that love isn’t just for “pretty people”
In a Times interview, Peter offers his perspective on why he is as worthy of love as anyone else. Due to his condition of achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism, Peter has spent his entire life trying to shield himself away from prying, judgmental eyes. “Being my size, I get second looks quite often,” he shared. “My whole life I’ve had stares.” As a result, he suffered from a startling lack of confidence and would often pursue dangerous strategies to quash self-doubt. Those actions landed him in trouble more than a few times and left him feeling starved of love and compassion.
Today, he’s a wildly famous actor, with countless accolades to his name, not to mention the millions of dollars he has banked as the lead of one of–if not the–most popular television series of all time. He has started to get used to a different variety of fame, one that’s not so singularly hinged on his size but his work as a whole. “Now there’s an ownership to someone looking at me or approaching me. It’s because of something positive,” he said. He’s no longer solely defined by his height; he is being associated with the cultural phenomenon of Game of Thrones as well as his witty, thoughtful performance that’s generated his own following over the years.
Moreover, Peter is learning what it means to be a leading man. His nearly seventeen-year marriage with Erica taught him how everyone is entitled to experiencing love. It isn’t just a concept deserved for beautiful people in romantic dramas who face the same set of challenges time and again. No matter what you look like or where you come from, you deserve love, and you deserve the full spectrum of emotions that accompany love.
Similarly, in an ideal world, the love depicted on our screens can’t feature just pretty people, either. “The idea of a leading actor is changing now,” he said. A few years or decades ago, Peter might not have had the illustrious career he does today, but representation engenders a collective change in society. Even we are exposed to diverse identities, we gain a better understanding of how similar we indeed are. As Peter has ascended through the ranks in Hollywood and carved out his place in the public consciousness, we are more open to seeing leading men like him. In his view, everyone has a love life, and we need to move beyond the perspectives of “pretty people.”
We’ve been stuck with this stereotype of a leading man and it’s healthy to open that up. Love life is not the domain of pretty people — everybody has a love life.
Peter Dinklage on The Times
He struggled with feeling “worthless” when he met his wife, but she taught him how to love himself
Playing the lead in the upcoming film Cyrano, Peter is re-examining what it means to pursue a romance, especially since he’s been with his wife for a while. Funnily enough, Erica herself wrote the script for the film and was a massive force in persuading Peter to take the role. He told the The New York Times that Cyrano is a man “who doesn’t know what to do in the face of love, who has nothing to blame but himself.” That’s how Erica initially perceived him, so naturally, he was the ideal candidate for bringing her vision to life.
When he was a young man in his twenties, Peter had a tendency of falling for people who didn’t reciprocate. “Because keeping it at a distance is more romantic than bringing it up close,” he said. However, the self-inflicted, “self-saboteur” torment phase wasn’t going to last. Like everybody, he had to make those mistakes in his youth so that he could mature and gain clarity on what he really wanted. When he first met Erica, he felt “unworthy” of her love. The love was so all-consuming and formidable and compelling that he had to convince himself that he stood a chance. “It was like something out of a beautiful, fantastical, end-of-the-world, crazy, romantic movie,” he said about their first meeting.
If anybody’s been lucky enough to experience love, it just grabs hold of you. You don’t control how you feel, but you can choose what to do with it.
Peter Dinklage to the New York Times
Over time, the “torment” doesn’t necessarily end, but you get older, and you start realizing how it doesn’t have to be so painful. When you’ve been with your partner for a few years, you realize how you are just as valid as anyone when it comes to love. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll hurt people, but as long as you remain attuned to what your partner needs and you’re able to preserve the romance, things work out. That was his primary motivation for taking the role of hopelessly romantic but shy Cyrano. He wanted to uncover the “worthlessness” we all feel when we come across the love of our life. We don’t think we deserve them, but in actuality, we deserve each other the perfect amount.
You’re worthy of love
Nobody is too small or big for love. Nobody is too rich or poor for love. Love is an immensely malleable phenomenon that will fit your life no matter where you stand. You don’t have to look a certain way to deserve something special. You don’t need to have a certain number in your bank account to feel worthy. Your journey will take place as it’s meant to take place. Obviously, it isn’t perfect, and you’ll go through struggles, but it’s never too late to make changes. As you go through life experiences, you will understand how lovely it is to be yourself, just as Peter learned, and still be able to understand the meaning of love.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu
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