5 Things You Didn't Know About the 'Game of Thrones' Star Peter Dinklage

Season 2 of the epic fantasy TV show "Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday. The hit series is based on a sprawling best-selling book series by the author George R.R. Martin and involves an invented world, insider jargon, warring kingdoms, family trees, and a map. And Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, promises to play an even more prominent part in its sophomore year.

He's a standout in "Game of Thrones." The role, for which the handsome 4-foot-5-inch actor won a Golden Globe and an Emmy, will be major this season. His part is complex and what the New York Times calls "the closest thing to a hero." In Season 2, Dinklage heads to King's Landing to replace Sean Bean's character as "hand to the king" -- to advise the cruel King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), who had Bean's character, Lord Eddard Stark, killed for treason.

[Photos: Meet the new faces joining Season 2 of 'Game of Thrones']

He acts on stage and screen. Dinklage's early film roles, "Living in Oblivion" and "The Station Agent," brought critical acclaim. Dinklage is also a gifted onstage actor and performed most recently in "Richard III." He has appeared in the TV shows "Entourage" and "Life as We Know It" as well.

He just says no. The actor has always refused to play stereotypical roles. No leprechauns, no Santa's elves. His consistency led to early lean years, but paid off with his winning a hugely popular part on a hit show.

He spoke out in support of fellow actor and dwarf Martin Henderson. At the end of the star's Golden Globe acceptance speech, he said, "I want to mention a gentleman I've been thinking about, in England. His name is Martin Henderson. Google him." The 4-foot-2-inch "Harry Potter" actor had been badly injured after being thrown by an unknown attacker. He immediately became a trending topic on Twitter.

He's a family man. The 42-year-old lives in upstate New York with his wife, theater director Erica Schmidt, and their baby daughter. He was born in New Jersey and is the only dwarf in his family.

Watch a clip of Dinklage in a scene from the Season 2 premiere of "Game of Thrones":