After Peter Dinklage calls ‘Snow White’ plot ‘backward,’ Disney pledges new approach

Actor Peter Dinklage stands with his arms crossed in front of his chest.
Peter Dinklage has issues with certain “progressive” moves in the entertainment industry.
(Jesse Dittmar / For The Times)
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Peter Dinklage has some thoughts about hypocrisy among Hollywood progressives.

The “Game of Thrones” star was discussing wokeness in the context of comedy on Monday’s edition of the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast when the conversation turned to confused thinking in the entertainment industry.

“There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on, I gotta say, from being somebody who’s a little bit unique,” Dinklage said, noting that he had had a “front-row seat” to a lot of it.

As a case in point, he brought up Disney’s upcoming remake of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which features “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler in the “skin white as snow” lead role. Zegler, who is of Colombian and Polish descent, had to fend off a few haters when her casting was announced last June.


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Dinklage’s concern had to do not with her casting but with the contradictory thinking behind the entire effort.

“I was a little taken aback by — they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ Take a step back and see what you’re doing there. It makes no sense to me. Because you’re progressive in one way and you’re still making that f— backward story about seven dwarfs who live in a cave.”

Per the original story, the dwarfs actually live in a cottage in the woods, as they also did in Disney’s 1937 animated classic.

Dinklage took on a light tone as he went on, saying in an accent, “Have I done nothing to advance the cause, from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”

On Monday’s episode of his podcast, comedian Marc Maron honored director Lynn Shelton, his girlfriend, who died Saturday: ‘I was better in Lynn Shelton’s gaze.’

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“I don’t know what studio that was,” he added, “but they were so proud of that. And all love and respect to the actress and the people who thought they were doing the right thing, but ... what are you doing?”

Disney did not respond Tuesday morning when contacted by The Times, but the studio issued a statement later to the Hollywood Reporter.

“To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community,” a Disney spokesperson told THR. “We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”


Dinklage, who is white, also mentioned that people complained about him being cast as actor Hervé Villechaize, who was often incorrectly perceived to be Filipino, for HBO’s “My Dinner With Hervé.”

“There was a lot of early backlash: ‘How dare he play a Filipino?‘” Dinklage said. “They were so liberal-minded — and I am as liberal as anybody — but they were so convinced, because of how he looked, Hervé, that he was Filipino, which is ... if that’s not racism ... He’s a Frenchman, and his physical condition made him look very cherubic.”

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Dinklage said he was hanging out at the time with the actor’s brother, Patrick Villechaize, who was just laughing at all of it.

But back to “Snow White.” Maron said that, as with other revivals, “They know they got a cash cow with that story,” and that trumped everything.

“Because people don’t. Take. Risks,” Dinklage said in staccato fashion.

“In their mind, they’ve got a no-brainer here. We can win by appearing to be progressive, by casting a Latina, and we can just run money through this story again ...,” Maron said. I don’t think anybody has ever probably said ... the dwarf community is tired of this ...”

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the finale of “Game of Thrones.”

May 20, 2019

“Is there one?” the 4-foot-5 Dinklage asked about the “dwarf community” his host referenced. “I don’t know.”


“That’s the thing,” Maron said. “In order to seek representation, you have to have a community movement. Which also is the heart of what becomes the issue of wokeness.”

“But it’s such a minority,” Dinklage said. “And I’m not affiliated with any groups or anything, but it’s such a minority that it causes a real ‘Who the f— cares.’

“And that’s entertainment.”