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“Being Latino and being an actor has been a unique struggle and opportunity. There is a stereotype of Latino representation in television and in film that can be contradicted by the actual world of Latinos. When you don’t fit into what maybe a more stereotypical vision of what somebody whose name is 'Pedro' is, it can be a little bit harder to navigate, but I think that it's changing.”

José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal (born April 2, 1975 in Santiago, Chile), known professionally as Pedro Pascal, is an award-winning Chilean-American actor and director, best known for playing anti-heroes and evildoers.

He emigrated to America as a baby, when his parents' acts of opposition against Augusto Pinochet forced the family to flee Chile. Pascal studied acting at the Orange County School of the Arts, and the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. He joined the Screen Actors' Guild during his final year at Tisch, then enrolled at Actors' Equity a few years after graduation.

For years, Pascal specialized in one-off roles and secondary characters. With help from his friend Sarah Paulson, he eventually joined the cast of Game of Thrones, portraying passionate and vengeful prince Oberyn Martell in the show's fourth season. He earned international fame for his performance, enabling him to finally land higher-profile gigs. Before HBO aired Oberyn's final appearance, he agreed to co-star on Narcos as DEA Agent Javier Peña. While most of the stars didn't stay beyond the first Story Arc, he stayed through the third season, elevating from third to top billing in the process.

Pascal's popularity continued to grow during his streak of playing morally gray father figures in TV shows and movies, including the Space Western Prospect. As it garnered acclaim in the indie movie circuit, he claimed a role in the Star Wars franchise as paternal refugee-turned-Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin. Consequently, the first live-action Star Wars TV show, The Mandalorian, would also become the first program to give Pascal, a long-time fan of Star Wars, top billing from the start. A few months after Season Two finished airing, his renown for sympathetically portraying various flawed fathers led to HBO casting him as Joel Miller in the TV series adaptation of The Last of Us.

In 2023, Pascal became the first Latino actor to earn three Primetime Emmy Award nominations in the same year: Outstanding Narration for Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for The Last of Us, and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live Season 48, episode 12.


Roles:

Pedro Pascal's work provides examples of these tropes:

  • Anti-Hero: Many of the people he portrays commit immoral acts for noble purposes. Pascal discussed this trope with another Game of Thrones cast member, Lena Headey, when she interviewed him for Hunger TV.
    ... the anti-heroes are central to these television shows, and people are really getting behind them, even though they're not necessarily the most moral characters. So I'd say that I've become more familiar with the character who's obviously very flawed but gets you on their side — you have complicated feelings about them.
  • The Cast Showoff:
    • He competed in Texas swimming championships as a child, until he quit the swim team to focus on his drama classes. He continues to swim as a hobby, and in some aquatic scenes in his productions.
    • While studying anthropology in Madrid, he worked as a go-go dancer in a nightclub (but didn't undress onstage). He still dances ocassionally, such as in this Happy Socks Dada Ad.
  • Celebrity Endorsement:
  • Celebrity Resemblance: When he and his friend Oscar Isaac did a WIRED Autocomplete Interview to promote Triple Frontier — the first movie to co-star both actors — Pascal responded to the phrase "pedro pascal look alike" by comparing himself to Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Renner, and Quentin Tarantino.
  • The Charmer: Several of his roles earn others' trust, respect, and/or love with charismatic ease.
  • Chewing the Scenery: He tends to exaggerate his facial expressions, make broad hand motions, and speak passionately or powerfully. If he starts Suddenly Shouting as well, he crosses the threshold into Large Ham territory.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: He usually dies in his TV roles such as Game of Thrones and the Law & Order franchise. He's not even safe in some of his movie roles such as Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Equalizer 2.
    Oscar Isaac: He's made a career by dying spectacularly.
  • The Comically Serious: Perhaps his greatest strength as a comedic actor is his ability to deliver utterly ridiculous dialogue with the same dark intensity he brings to his dramatic roles.
  • Creator's Favorite: Pascal has expressed an especially strong fondness for Oberyn Martell, even years after Oberyn's final appearance.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Multiple productions cast him as someone with a traumatically tragic backstory and/or an unsavory history.
  • Determinator: Several of his characters will take any means necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Dueling Works:
    • Wonder Woman 1984 and We Can Be Heroes, two superhero movies co-starring him as a single father, reached two different streaming platforms (HBO Max for the former and Netflix for the latter) on Christmas 2020.
    • HBO's The Last of Us episodes #7-9 and Disney+'s The Mandalorian Chapters 17-19, installments of science-fiction shows both described as "Pedro Pascal escorting magic child to safety," all aired during a three-week span from February 26, 2023 to March 15, 2023.
  • Friendship on the Set: He manages to form positive relationships with other cast and crew members of his projects, including the aforementioned Oscar Isaac (who met Pascal when both performed in the 2006 Off-Broadway show, Beauty of the Father).
  • Hidden Depths: Even though his best-known performances come from TV prestige dramas, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and Saturday Night Live earned him praise as a comedic performer as well. He claimed in a Digital Spy interview that he has more in common with Endearingly Dorky cinephile Javi Gutierrez than with the likes of Javier Peña.
  • I Have Many Names: Has professional acting credits under the names "Pedro Balmaceda", "Alexander Pascal", and finally "Pedro Pascal". Before he became a professional actor, he used an anglicized Embarrassing Nickname in high school: "Peter Balmaceda".
  • It Runs in the Family: Pascal and his siblings inherited a love of movies from their cinephile father, resulting in three of them entering show business. Pascal's older sister, Javiera Balmaceda, became director of programming for HBO Latin America shortly before Game of Thrones Season 4 premiered, and has since moved on to Amazon Studios' director of local originals for Latin America, Canada, and Australia. Their younger sister, Lux Pascal, has also taken up acting; she appeared in Narcos Season 3 as Elias.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Sometimes he acts with a fake accent, such as when he played Dashing Hispanic-like Oberyn Martellnote  or when he adopted a Southern Gentleman persona for Agent Whiskeynote . For The Mandalorian and the Community table read, he proved that he could also put on a guttural growlnote . To quote a Flaunt interview with him:
    I don't even know what my fucking natural accent is. I spent 20 years in New York, and if I'm back there I start to sound like everyone around me in Brooklyn.
  • Manly Facial Hair: His "rakish mustache", as GQ described it, provides a defining feature of almost all of his performances, and eventually his real-life appearances as well. In the Autocomplete Interview, he claimed to have received the following advice after consecutively agreeing to do Much Ado About Nothing and Narcos with a mustache:
    "Don't ever get rid of your mustache. You look like my grandmother without it."
  • Method Acting: While unwilling to become a full-time method actor, he engages in this especially during ADR sessions, recreating his character's motions in the recording booth. Some shows also provide instances of him performing either method acting or Enforced Method Acting on the set.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He goes topless in several of his roles, particularly if he plays someone who Really Gets Around. Sometimes, he even performs on stage completely nude.
  • Nom de Mom: He took on his mother's surname as his professional last name, to honor her after her death, and also because "Pedro Balmaceda" proved too difficult for non-Latinos to pronounce.
  • One-Take Wonder: Prospect co-director Zeek Earl has referred to Pascal as an actor who insists on nailing scenes in one try, and usually succeeds.
  • Papa Wolf: Every science fiction drama he's headlined since Prospect (the first movie to give him top billing on the poster) has him take life-risking, occasionally unscrupulous measures to protect an orphan. Spoofed in this SNL sketch, in which Pascal lands the title role of an HBO Mario Kart drama, and must anti-heroically protect a dethroned Princess Peach on a perilous trek to Rainbow Road.
  • Plays Great Ethnics: His resume includes characters from Lithuania, Morocco, Mexico, or Caucasian lineage, among other non-Chilean backgrounds.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Often crossing over with Awesome, Dear Boy, many of the parts he accepts or pursues tie in with an IP that interests him — such as the aforementioned Game of Thrones and Star Wars — and/or boast at least one creative he admires. For The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, he took on the role of Nicolas Cage's Ascended Fanboy as a testament to Cage's influence on his acting.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: In this Esquire article, The Last of Us co-developer Craig Mazin cited "this expressive pain behind [Pascal's] eyes" as one of the actor's most endearing traits, as demonstrated in the episode "Kin."
  • Self-Deprecation: The self-proclaimed dork tends to mock himself in social media and interviews.
  • Sinister Schnoz: He's attributed his tendency to land parts with immoral qualities to casting people who think his aquiline nose would help provide a devious appearance.
    I'm not dangerous, but I have a sharp nose. I will probably be playing bad guys forever because of my face.
  • Stage Names: He spent a year as "Alexander Pascal" after too many casting directors called him paler than "Pedro".
  • Star-Making Role: Oberyn Martell widely exposed Pascal's talents to the public, helping him go from a working actor to a world-famous star almost overnight.
  • Starving Artist: He recalled his days as an impoverished New York theater actor in this video, one of several that Actors' Equity put out in a campaign to raise Off-Broadway performers' wages. He tried waiting tables for his day gig for a time and got fired from over twenty restaurants in New York City, which you have to admit is pretty impressive.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Discussed in interviews tracing his rise to fame; Pascal admitted that when he reached his 30s, he decided to accept that he would never land his big break, and should settle for whatever gigs would help pay the rent... and then he landed his dream part for Game of Thrones.
  • Throw It In!: Has a knack for improv, such as when he ad-libbed this zinger in Narcos:
    Steve Murphy: Ever been duck huntin'?
    Javier Peña: No, I have not been duck hunting, you... fucking hillbilly.
  • What Could Have Been
    • Before Pascal auditioned for Game of Thrones, he played Agent Ortega in a Live-Action Adaptation of The Sixth Gun, which didn't make it past the pilot. He did share a picture of himself as Ortega, and later reunited with some of the other cast members on other projects.
    • Before HBO began airing Pascal's GoT episodes, Patty Jenkins directed him in the pilot for the ABC drama Exposed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an Intrepid Reporter. This didn't get picked up, either, but fansites dedicated to either Winstead or Pascal posted screencaps and a bootleg video. Pascal already loved Jenkins' Monster, and his performance and on-set presence for Exposed impressed her so much, that she eventually offered him the role of Max Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 — without requiring him to audition.


 
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