LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – When journalist Sacha Gervasi set out to do an interview with diminutive French actor Herve Villechaize, best known for playing an evil henchman in Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun,” he had no idea that it would become a 25-year mission to get the story published.
Now, Gervasi’s night-long interview with Villechaize is finally seeing the light of day in HBO film “My Dinner with Herve,” with “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage as the 3-foot-11-inch (1.19-meter) tall Villechaize.
“I wanted to tell it as a newspaper article but the newspaper I was working for rejected it,” Gervasi told Reuters Television.
“In a strange way, a thank you to them for not publishing the story because if they’d published it, there might have not been a film 25 years later.
“I always knew I had to honor the promise I made to Herve, which is to one day tell a more truthful story about him which was much more than a catchphrase on a popular TV show,” the British journalist turned director added.
Villechaize, who was also known for the line “De plane! De plane!” on 1970s television series “Fantasy Island,” committed suicide in 1993 at age 50 a few weeks after he and Gervasi parted company.
The film explores Villechaize’s struggles growing up, his relationship with his parents, how he got into the film and television industry and how his life fell apart.
Dinklage described Villechaize as “magnetic, he was really theatrical and a lot of fun. He burned very brightly.”
To play the role, Dinklage wore prosthetics to give him Villechaize’s rounder face and had vocal coaching to perfect a French accent.
“My Dinner with Herve” premieres on HBO on Oct. 20.
Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Sandra Maler