The most dangerous man in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" isn't a telepath, a shapeshifter or a guy with foot-long claws sticking out of his hands — he's Bolivar Trask, the non-superpowered scientist and Sentinel creator played by Peter Dinklage.
"Days of Future Past" marks Dinklage's first high-profile movie role since emerging as the breakout star of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones," but he's been plying his trade on the big screen for nearly 20 years. Here's a look at five of his memorable appearances before "X-Men."
"Living in Oblivion": Dinklage made his film debut in 1995 in this quirky, self-referential indie comedy that stars Steve Buscemi as a put-upon director desperately trying to complete his movie. Dinklage has a small but sharp role as Tito, a hot-tempered actor who admonishes Buscemi's character for his cliched decision to cast a dwarf in his dream sequence.
"I don't even have dreams with dwarfs in them," Dinklage fumes. "The only place I've seen dwarfs in dreams is in stupid movies like this!"
"Elf": Dinklage delivered another memorable outburst in Jon Favreau's 2003 Christmas comedy "Elf," in which Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human raised as one of Santa's elves at the North Pole who leaves to find his father, a publishing exec in New York City.
Alas, Buddy's naivete gets him into hot water with one of his dad's clients, Miles Finch (Dinklage), a successful author who doesn't take kindly to being mistaken for an elf. Without mussing his slicked hair or three-piece suit, he gives Buddy a thorough thrashing — first verbally, then physically.
"The Station Agent": The same year he appeared in "Elf," Dinklage landed his breakthrough role as the leading man in Thomas McCarthy's "The Station Agent." Dinklage earned glowing reviews playing a loner who tries to ignore the overtures of his new neighbors after moving to a small New Jersey town, only to find himself gradually opening up to them and expanding his horizons.
In a review of the film for the Times, Kenneth Turan declared Dinklage "first among equals" in the cast and said he "brings charisma and contained emotion to the role." Dinklage earned nominations for lead actor from the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
"Tiptoes": Granted, "Tiptoes" is most memorable for its sheer strangeness. The bizarre romantic comedy stars Kate Beckinsale and Matthew McConaughey as a couple whose relationship hits the rocks when she learns that he comes from a family of dwarfs — one of whom is inexplicably played by Gary Oldman, acting on his knees.
Dinklage, who plays a tattooed, motorcycle-riding friend in the film, admitted to the New York Times in 2012 that "there was some flak." He continued, "'Why would you put Gary Oldman on his knees? That's almost like blackface.' And I have my own opinions about political correctness, but I was just like: 'It's Gary Oldman. He can do whatever he wants, and I'm so happy to be here.'"
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian": Director and co-writer Andrew Adamson knew before he started writing the script for this 2008 fantasy adventure that he wanted Dinklage to play the heroic Trumpkin the Red Dwarf, having admired the actor's work in "The Station Agent."
Though Dinklage is now a fantasy veteran thanks to "Game of Thrones," it took some convincing for him to come aboard "Prince Caspian." (And once he finally did, he had to shave his head, endure three hours of makeup a day and wear a fake beard made of yak hair.)
In 2008, Dinklage told The Times, "Sometimes, with these fantasy film characters who are dwarfs … sometimes you can be set dressing. I am not interested in that as an actor. It's all about the character."