My Dinner With Herve writer reveals film’s long road to the screen

The British filmmaker behind Emmy-nominated drama My Dinner With Herve said he had “rejection after rejection” before finally getting the film made.

Sacha Gervasi wrote and directed the TV movie, which is based on an interview he had with French actor Herve Villechaize in 1993.

Gervasi was a young reporter at the time and the meeting ended when Villechaize, who was born with dwarfism, pulled a knife on him.

Peter Dinklage
Peter Dinklage stars as the actor Herve Villechaize in Emmy-nominated TV film My Dinner With Herve (PA Wire)

The actor, best known for playing evil henchman Nick Nack in James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun, as well as his role in TV series Fantasy Island, took his own life shortly afterwards.

He is played by Game Of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage in My Dinner With Herve, while Irish actor Jamie Dornan stars as a struggling journalist.

The film, released in October last year, has been nominated for outstanding television movie at the Emmy Awards, which honour excellence in TV.

Gervasi revealed it was a long and difficult process to bring the script to the screen.

Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan plays a struggling journalist in My Dinner With Herve, which is nominated for an Emmy Award (Ian West/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “We just literally had rejection after rejection after rejection. People really liked the script but they thought, ‘this is the most uncommercial thing ever’.

“People just laughed in our faces.”

Gervasi met Dinklage shortly after the actor starred in 2003 comedy-drama The Station Agent.

Dinklage, who was also born with dwarfism, became a “co-conspirator” in trying to get the film made.

Eventually, US premium cable network HBO, behind critically acclaimed shows including Game Of Thrones and Chernobyl, gave Gervasi the green light.

And their faith was rewarded when this year’s Emmy nominees were announced in July.

My Dinner With Herve will go up against Black Mirror interactive film Bandersnatch, Benedict Cumberbatch-starring political drama Brexit, Western Deadwood: The Movie and King Lear, which features Sir Anthony Hopkins in the lead role.

Gervasi said getting the film made was its own reward.

“The fact we’re in the room with those guys is pretty great”, he said. “It’s fun. It’s the era of TV, it’s lovely to be selected when there are so many things out here that can qualify for these awards.

“I don’t even think about winning, for us winning was getting the thing made, that was the victory. Everything else after that was a gift. Because genuinely, Peter and I did not believe it would get made.”

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on September 22.

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