Home » Peter Dinklage ’91 Addresses Bennington College’s Class of 2012 (Full Transcript

Peter Dinklage ’91 Addresses Bennington College’s Class of 2012 (Full Transcript

Peter Dinklage

Here is the full transcript of The Game of Thrones star – Peter Dinklage’s commencement speech at Bennington College’s Class of 2012…

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Don’t be frightened! When a Bennington student, 10 minutes before you come up to the podium — and you’re amazed.

That he made. If you don’t bring it to the podium with you, you will never be Bennington.

So I would like to thank you Ben for helping me put the fear of God in the audience tonight. But I have to put it down because I’m an actor, I am really weak. That was heavy. It wasn’t like a probe but it was real. Thanks Ben.

So now I’m going to read. And I’m not off book. Sorry, I might be looking down a lot.

Thank you, President Coleman, Brian Conover, faculty, students, family, alumni, some of whom are dear friends of mine who have traveled all the way from the big city to see me hopefully not humiliate myself tonight. And especially thanks to you, the Graduating Class of 2012.

See, as a joke I wrote, hold for applause, and I was actually going to read that. So you kind of killed my joke.

Let’s do that again. 2012, hold for applause.

2012. Wow! I never thought I’d see 2012. I thought perhaps the Mayan calendar would prove correct. And the end of the world would have been the greatest excuse to get me out of this terrifying task of delivering the commencement speech. But wait! According to the Mayan calendar here, when does the world end? December — December 2012. Damn!

Okay. Maybe I shouldn’t talk to the graduates eager to start the new lives about the end of the world. Okay. Really? Really?

Of all the novelists, teachers, playwrights, poets, groundbreaking visual artists and pioneers of science, you got the TV actor. No, no, and I actually heard you petition for me. Oh, you fools!

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You know what, for those of you who didn’t petition for me, I would love to later on talk about the problems in the Middle East and the downfall of the world economy. And for those of you who did petition for me, I don’t have any signed DVDs of the Game of Thrones. But I am happy to talk about the parallel lineages of the Targaryens and Lannisters later at the bar.

You see, it took all of my strength, and, of course, a little extra push from my wife Erica for me to agree to do this. Because I don’t do this. In my profession, I am told by people who know what they’re doing, where to stand, how to look, and most importantly, what to say. But you’ve got me — only me — my words unedited and as you will see quite embarrassing.

Okay, let me think. I’m thinking. But actually I didn’t read that. That was ad libbed.

Let me think. What has — everyone and their uncle told me, as I desperately seek out advice on how to give a commencement address.

“Tell them what they want to hear.”

“Talk about your time at Bennington.”

“Know that there is no wrong speech.” I like that one.

“Just keep it brief.” That was my father-in-law.

“Be brutally honest.”

“Tell them how hard it is after you graduate.” We’ll get back to that one.

“Just watch Meryl Streep’s commencement speech at Barnard and you’ll be fine.”

What did Beckett say: “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On”.

So even if I don’t burn in your hearts and minds long after this speech is over. Even if I don’t inspire you to reach for the stars and beyond. Even if I am erased from your memory after one glass of wine tonight — Where am I going with this? I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

You know, I won’t speak of my time here, like some old fishermen. You have already had your time here. You have your own story to tell.

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But I have to say. For me, it did start here, in Vermont, on a very rainy night. It was 1987. And I was a prospective student. The rain was coming down so hard, it was impossible to see that I was meeting the person who would later become my greatest friend and collaborator. A freshman, who would, 17 years later, introduce me to the woman that became my wife. I’ll call him Sherm. Because I do.

It was late at night, on the road, right there near Booth House. And despite the dark night and the heavy rain, this place was so alive. The lights pulsed from each of the dorms.

Now I was a kid from New Jersey who went to an all-boys catholic high school. I was four-foot something. I mumbled when I spoke. I wore a sort of woman’s black belt that capped, black tights, combat boots and a skull.

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