About the Time Peter Dinklage Watched a Man Die, and How He Didn't Realize He May Have Been Indirectly Responsible
Peter Dinklage, who made the cover of Esquire’s Style Issue this month (pushing Cobie Smulders no-pants photoshoot to the inner pages), discussed in his interview an experience he had in 2003, after The Station Agent, in which he saw a man die literally right in front of him.
“One morning, I was walking down Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. There was this guy on a motorcycle right in front of me—about as far away as that plant, maybe six feet? And he looked at me. He didn’t wave, but he looked at me, and then he pulled out into traffic and this car, like, boom—killed him instantly.”
And you were the last person he saw?
“Yes. I was the last person he saw on earth.”
Surely, at this point, I’m not the only one thinking what the author is thinking. But Dinklage is clearly not thinking what the rest of us are.
“I connected with him. And then he pulled out into traffic and boom. There was an old guy driving the car. I ran into this coffee shop that I’d been on my way to. They had somebody call an ambulance. And then I ran back outside to be with the guy, but he was already dead. I didn’t want to get too near him. The old guy had stopped and he was slowly getting out of his car. It was in the morning, so there was no one around, you know? This was in L. A., where nobody walks. It was empty. So there was this quiet moment where it was like I was the only person in the world who knew this guy was dead. And I was there looking at him, you know, in those moments of calm after something horrible happens, the calm before the melee starts, before the ambulances and the cops arrive and it becomes a scene. There was that moment when I was with him.”
He “connected with him” then boom! The guy drives out into the middle of an intersection and is killed by another car. No sudden realizations here, Peter?
“There’s such a difference with dying,” Dinklage says. “You can have somebody who is really sick for a long time. Like, my father had cancer for many years and he passed away. He was too young. He was in his seventies, which is too young. But there’s something different between an older person dying and this guy. He was probably about twenty-five. He’d probably just had breakfast at the same place I was headed. And then he died. It’s like, he was robbed.”
No, still nothing, huh? A man on a motorcycle looks over at Dinklage, connects with him, doesn’t look where he’s going, and gets plowed by another car. That doesn’t sound any bells?
Oh, wait: HERE IS IT.
We sit for a few moments, sipping our coffees. He eats some cheese and apple off the plate but skips the bread. The passing show continues past.
Then it pops into my head, so I ask: Do you think you might have distracted him?
Dinklage’s eyes saucer. His face contorts into a hideous mask.
“No, no, no, no!” he cries, raising his hands defensively, as if to fend off the notion. “No! I never felt like that! NOT AT ALL.”
Just wondered, you know, given the—
“Oh, my God! F-k you. How dare—Oh, Mike. I never thought of that before. This was supposed to be a story about how I actually connected with a stranger. Oh, f-k. Oh, man. Dude!”
I’m so sorry. It just seemed—
“It’s over. This is over! I’m gonna have nightmares tonight. I’m Catholic, remember?”
How, in over a decade, could have never thought that? Even if the connection hadn’t resulted in the man’s death (it totally did), how had the thought never occurred to him? Dinklage, an easily recognizable celebrity in Los Angeles after The Station Agent is spotted a morning in which no one else is around, and made a connection. That guy wasn’t “connecting.” He was star-spotting. His final thoughts were probably, “Holy Sh*t! Peter Dinklage! I should get his autogr … ”
As dying thoughts go, it’s not a bad one to go out on.