Tyrion Lannister might be nicknamed “The Imp” for his short stature, but there’s far more to him than what meets the eye.

That complexity is one reason Peter Dinklage was drawn to the role of the quick-witted, whore-loving outcast younger brother of a family scheming to take over the kingdom on HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones.”

“Dwarves show up a lot in fantasy genre, but when they do, they’re these sorts of caricatures, woodland creatures or the punchline of jokes,” Dinklage says. “Nobody gives them a romance. Nobody gives them fully formed personalities, and Tyrion is one of the richest characters I have ever come across. He’s a human being.”

To bring his character to life, Dinklage avoids too much homework before coming to set.

“If I get too prepared, I have a preconceived notion of what the scene is without opening myself up to possibilities with other actors or the director who can see it a totally different way,” he says.

The costumes help too. “You put somebody who’s not tough, like me, in leather and he suddenly thinks he’s tough. I wear leather all 10 episodes,” Dinklage laughs.

“The Imp” isn’t exactly cowardly. Midway through the series he makes his first kill, thoroughly beating a man who attacked him.

The underlying intricacies of Tyrion’s character, revealed as the series unfolds, fascinated Dinklage.

“In episode nine, Tyrion tells a story of something from his past related to his father and a love he once had,” Dinklage recalls. “It’s horrific but explains a lot of why this guy behaves the way he does.”

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