Peter Dinklage ranks among 2003's top breakouts
Unlike the scowling children's author he plays in ''Elf,'' Dinklage has plenty to thank Santa for -- starting with his role in that very movie. In his one brief but hilarious scene, the 34-year-old actor kicks Will Ferrell's merry little butt for calling him an ''angry elf.'' ''It's not your typical holiday film,'' says Dinklage. ''It was a joy.'' Equally delightful? The Sundance smash ''The Station Agent,'' in which Dinklage plays a reclusive railroad aficionado. His quiet performance earned him critical raves and made Hollywood take notice -- finally. (He'll soon star opposite Cheri Oteri in the reality-TV mockumentary ''Surviving Eden,'' and he has a development deal for his own TV series.) ''Struggling is tiring,'' Dinklage laughs. ''It's nice to be comfortable.''