‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’: Peter Dinklage talks villainy, ’70s style

May 22, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
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Sunspot (Adan Canto), left, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) prepare for an epic battle to save their kind in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." (Fox)

la ca 0326 x men days of future 086 X Men: Days of Future Past: Peter Dinklage talks villainy, 70s style

Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets his older self (Patrick Stewart) in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." (Fox)

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Ellen Page, left, as Kitty Pryde and Shawn Ashmore as Iceman in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." (Fox)

There are many moments of dazzling visual spectacle in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the big-budget mutant sequel that arrives in theaters Friday. But unique among them is Peter Dinklage’s period coiffure as the villainous Bolivar Trask.

“It’s my hair with a lot of product –it’s a mutation all its own,” Dinklage deadpanned in a recent interview with Hero Complex.

Directed by Bryan Singer from a script by Simon Kinberg, “Days of Future Past” adapts one of the most popular story lines from “X-Men” history, a two-part saga from Chris Claremont and John Byrne that originally ran in 1980. The sci-fi-inflected narrative takes place in two time periods: a dystopian future in which mutants are hunted by deadly robots known as Sentinels, and in the early 1970s, after the events of Matthew Vaughn’s recent prequel “X-Men: First Class.”

The film sees the mutants send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time in order to put a stop to certain events that will set in motion this particular future.

“Days of Future Past” unites the casts of both the original “X-Men” trilogy — including Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as professor Charles Xavier and Ian McKellen as his friend-turned-foe Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Magneto — and Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 prequel, which featured James McAvoy as a younger Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, a role played in the original films by Rebecca Romijn.

Also featured are Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, Halle Berry as Storm, Omar Sy as Bishop and Evan Peters as Quicksilver.

Dinklage joins the ensemble as the mastermind who develops the Sentinels to help humanity defend itself against mutant powers. The actor, who, of course, can also be seen as the cunning Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s sprawling fantasy “Game of Thrones,” said he was a fan of the “X-Men” films and was flattered to be asked by Singer to take on the role.

“I think Bryan’s first ‘X-Men’ movie changed the ballgame for the superhero comic book films,” Dinklage said. “I think it was the first one that explored the darker side of these superheroes. It pre-dated the Chris Nolan “Batman” movies and what Robert Downey Jr. did with the “Iron Man” series. I grew up on the Richard Donner “Superman” movies — which were more nostalgic and had more of a ’50s gloss to them. [They were] beautiful but they weren’t as dark as the films we know today. And I think that’s what the true comic book fans were waiting for. They always saw the darker elements to these superheroes that they knew.”

In the new film, Trask is directly responsible for the bleak, apocalyptic future that sees the world decimated and the mutants on the run, but his motivations are more complex than the average antagonist, something that appealed to Dinklage.

“To get to play the villain is always great fun,” Dinklage said. “He’s not your everyday villain either. It’s complicated just like the mutant characters are. He thinks he’s doing things for the right reasons and if you look at it one way, he is. He wants to save humankind as we know it because he’s done his homework and on the evolutionary Darwinian ladder the mutants are next rung on the ladder. We’re below them and their evolution means our demise, so he’s proposing to save the world from them.

“But he’s war-profiteering, he’s a capitalist, so he’s not going to do it without profiting somehow,” the actor continued. “For me, that’s pretty villainous.”

With Trask’s scenes set entirely in the 1970s, Dinklage had the opportunity to sport some delightful period costumes, in addition to a memorable hair helmet.

“There’s a fine line between portraying it realistically and ‘Anchorman,’ but I guess it’s all in the delivery and the design,” he said. “I think they did a great job with that.”

– Gina McIntyre

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