13. “Nip/Tuck” (2006): Marlowe Sawyer
Why is this at the bottom of the list? Mostly because we can’t say we’re Ryan Murphy fans. According to Wikipedia, the character Dinklage played in seven episodes of the 2003-2010 plastic surgery soap had an affair with a married woman, asked for leg surgery so he could be tall enough for her, and then “left during a hurricane in Miami to have a nice long vacation in Italy.”
No. We don’t get it either.
12. “The $treet” (2001): Little Person
In a cast of ‘90s era all-stars like Tom Everett Scott, Adam Goldberg and Giancarlo Esposito (plus Jennifer Connelly!), Dinklage wasn’t even on the radar as an “up-and-comer.” Sadly, he was instead being cast because of his height, an especially frustrating occurrence for shows like “The $treet,” where his two-line part didn’t merit a name in the credits other than “little person.” Dinklage is adequately intimidating as a cell mate trying to pick a fight with Goldberg, but his character is nothing more than a punchline for a macho Wall Street trader who needs help fighting a “little man.” Still, not many actors can deliver a line like “You got a beef pompadour boy?” with real menace.
11. “Celebrity Poker Showdown” (2005): Himself
Honest moment: Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown” was a guilty pleasure for both of us. It tapped into the cultural demand for famous people playing poker no one knew we needed in the early aughts (because we didn’t). Today, we can’t imagine watching more than a few minutes (for nostalgia’s sake), but it was an easy way to kill a Saturday afternoon before we had the option to switch on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or, we don’t know, actual sports. Dinklage’s episode perfectly encapsulates the time period in which it aired, as the once-famous (now infamous) Stephen Collins joined Dinklage and Bryan Cranston at the table. Spoiler alert: Collins wins, and the audience loses all over again.
10. “Third Watch” (2002): Drug Dealer
We couldn’t find any clips of Dinklage’s appearance on NBC’s surprisingly long-running medical/cops procedural (1999-2005), but the character he played in the Season 3 episode “The Long Guns” was named “Drug Dealer,” which is pretty rad. We’d buy drugs from Dinklage. His stash is undoubtedly choice.
9. “Oz” (2001): Himself
Here is Peter Dinklage making his HBO premium drama debut:
Not exactly an indication of the great things to come.
8. “Red Nose Day: Coldplay’s Game of Thrones — The Musical” (2015): Himself
This is silly as hell, but we’re oddly into Peter Dinklage’s brief appearance in this overly long but pretty funny musical ode to “Thrones,” produced for the first US edition of Red Nose Day (skip to 10:30 for the good stuff). Croon away, Dinklage. Croon away.
7. “Entourage” (2005): Himself
Dinklage is only one of the metric tons of famous people to appear as himself on the HBO series, but in doing so he did live the dream: Getting to say “Fuck you, Harvey” to Harvey Weinstein. It is perhaps the most real and authentic moment “Entourage” ever captured.
6. “Life as We Know It” (2005): Dr. Belber
In one of his post-“Elf” guest star TV spots (seriously — he was so good in that movie), Dinklage played a high school guidance counselor who served as the “best friend” kind of shrink. In his efforts to counsel “Dino” through his parents’ divorce, Dinklage has to talk to a high schooler about erectile disfunction in a very unrealistic fashion. “Life as We Know It” felt like an after school special, and Dinklage aptly mimicked that vibe while bringing a bit of authenticity to the part on his own. It’s not all that memorable, but he definitely showed enough on-screen promise to explain how he reached his Emmy-winning prime today.
5. “I’m With Her” (2004): Elliot Rosen
Dinklage displayed the rare gift of comedic talent without much comedy to work with on the short-lived ABC sitcom “I’m With Her.” As recurring character Elliot Rosen, Dinklage played a rude, short-tempered agent to Teri Polo’s Alex Young. The show didn’t work, but somehow Dinklage did. Despite Polo’s status — she was on “The West Wing,” guys — Dinklage stole every scene he was in with knowing charisma and a natural talent for playing to the studio audience. Distinctive but not overwhelming, the future “Game of Thrones” actor will hopefully land a starring role in a smarter comedy than this sometime soon (not that he didn’t appear on some A+, soon-to-be-mentioned comedies).
4. “Saturday Night Live” (2013): Peter Drunklage
Like most “Saturday Night Live” sketches, this Drunk Uncle bit goes on a little bit too long. But when Dinklage shows up, it becomes magic. The Tumblr rant alone makes it unforgettable.
3. “Threshold” (2005-2006): Arthur Ramsey
A short-lived sci-fi series that barely made it through its first season, “Threshold” is notable for its solid ensemble cast, including Dinklage in his first appearance as a series regular. The best bit about Dinklage on “Threshold” is that his character is completely unrelated to his physicality. As introduced in the above clip, Arthur’s most notable character traits are his mathematical genius and his love of debauchery: A suitable warm-up for playing Tyrion Lannister, also a lover of loose women and booze.
2. “30 Rock” (2009): Stewart
Just two years before Dinklage exploded on “Game of Thrones,” the New Jersey native guest starred on “30 Rock” as a U.N. employee Liz dated… after she rubbed his head on the street, thinking he was a child. Like all Liz Lemon cover-ups, it was quickly found out. Dinklage, as Stewart, put her in her place and the combined awkwardness of Lemon’s embarrassment and Stewart’s level-headed response served as a hilarious lesson in PC culture. A few of his earlier appearances could have used as much honest intelligence, but the real highlight of his work comes with his last line, as Dinklage delivered one of the best “Shut it down”s ever uttered on the classic NBC sitcom.
1. “Seinfeld” (1995): James’ Telephone Voice
Dinklage’s first television role is also maybe his sexiest; playing a voice on the phone that none of us would mind waking up to. Elaine, you lucky lucky lady.