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The TBTS Movie Character Hall of Fame: Tyrion Lannister

February 22, 2012

I’m going to bend the rules a little today, but I think anyone who has seen the newest inductee in action will agree he deserves it. Maybe bending this rule will make the whole system collapse. Blood in the streets. Dogs & cats living together. Mass hysteria. I’m willing to take that chance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re very honored you could join us today; for today, we induct another member into a very prestigious Hall of Fame: the TBTS Movie Character Hall of Fame. There are many movies, with many characters. Sometimes a movie has more than one character (it’s true!), and sometimes a movie may not have any characters. The latter are generally unsuccessful, while the former continue to thrill us in our “movie chairs.”

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's "Game of Thrones"

Alright, so sue me. HBO’s Game of Thrones is not a movie. It’s an epic dramatic series, the story of Westeros, a fantasy world wherein noble families connive for control of a kingdom. Though the locations are made up by author George R. R. Martin, the human elements of the story are all too familiar. Those with no taste for fantasy might consider it a period drama of a history not our own.

One of the aforementioned noble families is the Lannisters, an obscenely wealthy clan from the West. Tyrion is brother to Queen Cersei and her twin Jaime, captain of the King’s Guard. Born with dwarfism, Tyrion is a disappointment to his father, family patriarch Tywin Lannister, and the butt of jokes and gossip throughout the land. He shares his family’s talent for complex political maneuvering, and his physical appearance has more or less forced him to develop a rapier wit and a soft spot for, as he says, “cripples, bastards, and broken things.”

What you see is a dwarf. If I had been born a peasant, they might have left me out in the woods to die. Alas, I was born a Lannister of Casterly Rock. Things are expected of me… My sister married the new King, and my repulsive nephew will be king after him. I must do my part for the honor of my house, wouldn’t you agree? But how? Well, my brother has a sword, and I have my mind. And a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone. THAT is why I read so much.

When the series first shows us Tyrion, he is drinking a mug of ale while, shall we say, on the receiving end of a prostitute’s talents. This sets him up for an entire series’ worth of badassery, including smart-assing nearly everyone he meets, smacking his petulant nephew around, and having sex anywhere and with anyone he can.

Where do I begin, my lords and ladies? I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting. I have lied and cheated, gambled and whored. I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing others to do violence for me. You want specifics, I suppose… When I was seven, I saw a servant girl bathing in the river. I stole her robe and she was forced to return to the castle naked and in tears. I closed my eyes, but I could still see her tits bouncing… When I was 10, I stuffed my uncle’s boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. Poor boy was flogged, and I escaped justice… When I was 12 I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake, I skinned my sausage, I made the bald man cry into the turtle stew, which I believe my sister ate. At least I hope she did… I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…

Among the well-chosen cast and marvelous performances, Peter Dinklage stands, ironically, head and shoulders above the rest. We loved him in The Station Agent and Elf and the British version of Death at a Funeral.* But as Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister, he simply kicks ass. Fortunately, his performance is getting the attention it deserves; he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. We would attribute such accolades to Dinklage’s performance as well as the strength of the character and screenplay. And so, Tyrion Lannister, welcome to these noble ranks. Ale to the left and whores to the right.

* Though Dinklage played the same character in the American version of Death at a Funeral, we choose not to recognize that version’s existence.

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  1. Simplistic narratives and the fleshed-out dwarf « I.Decipher

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