Peter Dinklage reveals his rhyme-spitting history and chooses his Oscar favorites

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Move over, Drogon. Your dragon-loving pal Peter Dinklage is on fire — literally — in a new Super Bowl LII spot that features the Game of Thrones star spitting scorching rhymes opposite ice-cold competitor Morgan Freeman. It’s a matchup that’s been orchestrated by the combined powers of Doritos and Mountain Dew, with Dinklage repping the chip company’s new Doritos Blaze blend while Freeman raps the praises of Mountain Dew Ice. And both actors turned rap battlers have members of hip-hop royalty in their respective corners: Busta Rhymes provides musical inspiration for Dinklage, and Missy Elliott lends Freeman a verse or two.

“I feel like I got the more dangerous of the two options,” Dinklage tells Yahoo Entertainment about his side in the Blaze vs. Ice conflagration, which viewers will see between Super Bowl plays. “And Morgan Freeman is as cool as it gets, so it kind of makes sense.”

Peter Dinklage hypes Doritos Blaze in a new Super Bowl ad. (Photo: Courtesy of PepsiCo)

It wasn’t just Dinklage’s history with dragons that made him the ideal candidate to be the hypeman for Doritos’ fiery new flavor in the Nabil Elderkin-directed commercial. Back in the ’90s, the Emmy-winning actor fronted the rowdy New York punk band Whizzy, which rocked out in such iconic Big Apple dives as CBGB and Galapagos.

“We were a lot of fun,” Dinklage remembers. “We called ourselves a punk rap band. Our drummer had a truck, and we’d haul our gear in there to head to play gigs in downtown Manhattan. In Brooklyn back then, there was nothing but empty warehouses and carpet factories. There was a Polish bar that we played a couple of times where our audience was comprised of three old Polish men.”

Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman, along with Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott, in the Super Bowl Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice rap battle. (Photo: Courtesy of PepsiCo)

Those Whizzy gigs may not always have been well-attended, but they did provide Dinklage with an outlet for his youthful love of ’80s and ’90s hip-hop artists like De La Soul, the Beastie Boys, and Arrested Development.

“I was just a kid from New Jersey, so I loved those guys growing up,” he says, pointing to Eminem and Busta Rhymes as contemporary performers he admires. As he experienced firsthand, though, listening to Busta Rhymes and performing Busta Rhymes are two very different things. “Back when I used to write songs, I would just do simple rhymes. Busta does these play-on-words rhymes; for example, he’ll rhyme ‘cocky’ with ‘floppy.’ They work so well in his style and really open up the world of rhyme. But getting those right in my head were tricky, and the rhythm kept changing too. I would have to triple-time it!”

Besides keeping up with his musical partner’s flow, Dinklage also had to watch out for errant sparks on the Blaze set. “Back in my band days, we didn’t have pyrotechnics like we did on this,” he says with a chuckle. “It was really thrilling and quite scary in the moment, though safety was paramount. The fire is as close to me as you think. As an actor, I can be too complacent and pampered; you’ve got to light yourself on fire occasionally.”

Peter Dinklage on the fiery Doritos Blaze set. (Photo: Courtesy of PepsiCo)

With Game of Thrones currently in production on its eighth and final season, which will remain under lock and key in the HBO vault until 2019, Dinklage won’t be spending Super Bowl Sunday stateside and doesn’t profess a rooting interest in either the Philadelphia Eagles or the New England Patriots. But he does have some Oscar favorites to share, starting with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the acclaimed Martin McDonagh film that he has a memorable role in. Having picked up major prizes at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards recently, Three Billboards has positioned itself as an Academy Award frontrunner. Besides his own movie, Dinklage cites the Best Foreign Language nominee The Square as well as the darkly funny biopic I, Tonya, which received nods for stars Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, as two of his 2017 favorites. “I thought Margot Robbie was incredible in that, and [Allison] is brilliant and so different from what she’s done. The makeup is incredible.”

Super Bowl LII airs Sunday, Feb. 4, on NBC.

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