Peter Dinklage’s Wife Fell for Him When He Lived in Rat-Infested Place — They Made It to 17 Years with 2 Kids

Years before his international fame for playing the witty youngest Lannister sibling in “Game of Thrones,” Peter Dinklage struggled with life. He had no money nor hope to find love. However, the actor met his wife, and now, he wants to leave a legacy for his kids.

Peter Dinklage from “Game of Thrones” always knew he was different. The actor, born in New Jersey, with achondroplasia, noticed his growth was different from his older brother, Jonathan (a violinist), who kept growing.

Dinklage never grew past a certain height; at age five, he underwent collective leg surgery. Due to his height, the actor revealed that his entire life had been full of stares.

Peter Dinklage on May 9, 2014 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

As the only dwarf in the family, it was difficult to accept the difference. Thus, in his youth, he was often angry. Fortunately, through his upbringing — he was raised in an Irish-Catholic household, his parents taught him how to deal with his insecurities and accept that difference.

Dinklage grew up in a working-class family; his mother was an elementary school teacher, while his dad worked as an insurance salesman. The average-height couple was strict in raising their kids, and even though they did not have much money, they struggled to send their sons to the best schools.

Peter Dinklage on October 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images

During his speech at the Bennington College graduation in 2012, the actor revealed that his parents left him to figure out life after graduation. He stated:

“Maybe you don’t wanna hear this. Is that once I graduated, I was on my own. Financially, it was my journey.”

Peter Dinklage Struggled with Poverty

Despite being raised with the right values, learning to accept his height, and acquiring a quality education, Dinklage could have had a better start as an independent man.

Peter Dinklage on March 22, 2014 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

After graduation, he had no money, credit card, bank account, or apartment. The only thing he could call his own was debts accumulated over the years which did not stop growing. In his words:

“A big, hungry, growing-larger-every-moment debt.”

Peter Dinklage on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

For many years, he squatted with different friends, moving from couch to couch. Since his youth, Peter had a passion for writing and acting, so he did not fancy getting a day job until things became worse.

Apart from filtering what he feeds her eyes with, the actor is conscious of the legacy he would leave for his kids.

Eventually, he took up work as a piano duster in a piano store before moving to tend to the property of a Shakespeare scholar. He later began to hang paintings at a gallery.

Actor Peter Dinklage on June 11, 2022 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

After two years of unstable jobs, he landed a job processing applications and data. Although the Benington alum hated working there, he spent six years there.

This made it easier to afford an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where the rent was $400 monthly. Dinklage described his first home as an “industrial loft,” where he lived with his friend who hoped to own a theater business. He explained:

“It had no heat or hot water. We didn’t smell very good but we had our youth.”

Peter Dinklage on May 13, 2022 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

His home was infested with rats, but he also had a cat named Bryan. The living conditions were challenging; the oven was unusable, the home shook whenever trains passed, and Peter could not look out his only window, it—was too tall. Without a girlfriend or a great job, he lived there for ten years.

Dinklage often turned down roles in fantasy movies despite not having a job. He feared being stereotyped as a magical dwarf for his entire career, so he stayed in his New York home.

Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

There, he managed his low-income job without fulfilling his dreams. He did not even have enough money for proper meals. The actor admitted that sometimes he only afforded a bag of chips for dinner.

Peter Dinklage Meeting His Beloved Wife

Throughout his years as an upcoming actor, the “Cyrano” star struggled with not enjoying love in its perfection. During his younger years, his love was never reciprocated, which messed with his definition of romance. According to the filmstar:

“You fall for people you know aren’t going to return that, so it’s even more tormented, and you’re not interested in the people interested in you. That’s how my brain worked because I was self-saboteur when I was young.”

Actor Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Luckily for Dinklage, his soulmate was introduced to him by Jonathan Marc Sherm, a longtime friend. Sherm was discussing a playwriting project with director Erica Schmidt when they mentioned the “Game of Thrones” star.

The playwright warned Schmidt about hurting his friend, stating that in the past, Dinklage had suffered heartbreaks. They agreed to match-make the pair over a game of Trivial Pursuit, and the rest became history!

Actor Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

Despite his height, Schmidt found him attractive. The director has remained smitten since their first meeting. Without mincing words, she speaks highly of his appeal. According to her:

“Lately, girls have been, like, licking his face. But what’s frustrating about it is that Pete is an incredibly handsome, charming, funny guy, but when he does a magazine or something it’s like, ‘isn’t it amazing he’s four foot five inches tall and he’s sexy?’”

Simultaneously, Dinklage is also in awe of his wife. The “Cyrano” star applauded her love for theater, claiming she is invested in art and not simply entertainment. He described her as the “artist of the family,” while he is “just the TV actor who pays the bills.”

Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt in New York City in 2014 | Source: Getty Images

The couple has worked on a series of projects, including “Cyrano” and “A Month in the Country.” During casting for “Cyrano,” Schmidt confessed that she was skeptical about giving her husband the scripts because of his success as a movie star.

However, Dinklage loved the role and performed brilliantly after he read it. The director noted that his role was not specifically written to fit his size, adding, “I think that was part of what he was drawn to.”

The lovebirds share two kids, a daughter they welcomed in 2011 and another child born in 2017; the sex of their second child remains a mystery, as the couple prefers not to share details of their private life.

Peter Dinklage and Zelig Dinklage on January 15, 2014 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Dinklage has voiced his desire to keep his family private and protect his kids more than once. A few years ago, the actor mentioned that his daughter was too young to watch his appearance on “Game of Thrones.” Apart from filtering what he feeds her eyes with, the actor is conscious of the legacy he would leave for his kids. In his words:

“I have a couple of kids and I want them to be proud. I choose parts much more carefully than I did when I was younger. It’s to set an example so that they’re proud of their dad’s work.”

Peter Dinklage Prefers a Private Life

Although Dinklage is very private, his status as a celebrity with a distinct height makes him stand out. He is easily approached by fans — which he hates, but he has managed to give his family a relatively private life.

Actor Peter Dinklage on November 19, 2015 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

They live in New York, which allows them to feel anonymous. He explained that he is not used to the paparazzi and prefers living in the woods, enjoying his alone time with his loved ones.