Peter Dinklage is having a major cultural moment. He’s been a movie star since the 1990s, earning acclaim for his lead role in The Station Agent, and widespread attention for major parts in films from Death At a Funeral to X-Men: Days of Future Past. His movie career feels like it’s hitting a new stride in 2017, though. He had a particularly rough season as fan-favorite character Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones this year, with his character constantly defanged and demoralized. But fans who didn’t get enough of him on the show last season now have other options: he’s one of the leads in Three Christs, a group of mentally ill men who insist their therapist (played by Richard Gere) acknowledge them as Jesus. He’s a tragic romantic figure in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the new film from In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh. (Both Three Christs and Three Billboards opened at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.)
Dinklage is also starring in the new science fiction mystery Rememory, which can be seen today for free on Google Play. The film is a moody, melancholy character piece about the conflict between technology and the mind. Dinklage plays Sam Bloom, a model designer who’s suffering from memory loss after a fatal car accident that killed his musician brother Dash (Matt Ellis). Sam is obsessed with getting his hands on a new device that extracts and records memories with perfect fidelity, even memories the conscious mind can’t access. He believes the device will let him see what happened in the accident, and come to terms with it.
Then the machine’s creator is murdered, and Sam ends up with a collection of other people’s recorded memories, which he has to unravel to find out what happened. Co-writer and director Mark Palansky fills the story with twists and turns, but mostly, he focuses on the reasons people distance themselves from memory, and haunt themselves with it. The Verge spoke with Dinklage via email about how he ended up on the film, why he tries to separate himself from his iPhone, and why he’d be leery of the Rememory device if it were real.
What drew you to Rememory?
My good friend Mark Palansky wrote the film with me in mind. We talked about the idea years before we shot the film. It’s dark and fascinating stuff from one of the funniest people I know. Makes for a great day at work.
I always love a slow burn in a character. Not revealing too much. Especially in a story like this one, where you are going down a rabbit hole with someone you don’t know too much about at first as your guide. I really enjoyed working with all of the different actors and the variety of their perspectives on the story as my character tries to piece it all together. I probably worked with Julia Ormond the most, and she is an absolute joy. A knockout who has the biggest heart, and who is making the world a much better place with her humanitarian work. I adore her.
What kind of conversations did you have about the character, or what Mark wanted you to bring across on-screen?
Like all great directors, Mark was most helpful in keeping the continuity of the story clear for me — where you are in the story, and which pieces are becoming clearer. It’s tricky sometimes in a story like this, dealing with your character’s memories, let alone other characters’ memories, and jumping back and forth to the present. Mark saw the overall and the minutiae at all times.
What technologies have most changed the way you live?
I hear we have advanced technologically more in the last 10 years than we have in the last 500 years. I’m 48 years old, so most of my life has been spent without a cellphone, the internet, or any other helpful gizmo. That’s also why I don’t trust a lot of it, and think people spend far too much time on them. They are no longer just a tool; they are an extension of yourself, your representative. That’s scary. I have people on the street ask me how my daughter Zelig is, just because that’s what it says her name is on the internet, not because that’s her real name, which it isn’t. Technology is terrifying. It also saves lives. I am a bit of a Luddite, but I do own an iPhone, and I do use it far too often. But I put it down for days on end when I can, and I’m so happy when I do.
Would you want access to a technology like the one in Rememory? Do you think people would welcome the chance to pull out and share their memories?
I would go nowhere near the Rememory device. Memories behave the same way the body does when it goes into shock. They can protect you from the pain of the reality of the actual event. They can also elaborate, make it funnier, prettier. Memories are very romantic. Why relive something when your memory of it usually makes it so much better?
Do you ultimately see this as more of a cautionary tale, or an uplifting story? Or something else entirely?
That’s the joy of the film. Everyone will come away with a different view on that, a different memory.