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How Pedro Pascal Rose to Fame

March 15, 2024 - Movies

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Summary

  • Pascal’s early career involved small roles in TV shows until landing his breakout role as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones.
  • His stellar performance in Game of Thrones led to a leading role in Narcos and eventually The Mandalorian, showcasing his range as an actor.
  • Pascal’s career continues to soar with upcoming projects, including starring as Reed Richards in the MCU’s Fantastic Four reboot.



Pedro Pascal is a Chilean-American actor who has rapidly become a household name. Pascal’s mother, Veronica Pascal, was a child psychologist, and his father, Jose Balmaceda, was a fertility doctor. His parents participated in a resistance group in Chile, and his mother was the cousin of the nephew of the socialist Chilean president Salvador Allende. Because of their rebellion against the dictatorship, Pascal’s family moved to the United States when he was only nine months old.

Pascal started acting at a young age with local theater and school plays, then went to NYU, received his BFA in acting, started getting work, taking on a surplus of minor roles for the majority of his career, and now, at the age of 48, he has played a handful of characters that would be the role of a lifetime for any actor.


Currently, Pascal stars as the lead role of Joel in the critically acclaimed HBO series The Last Of Us, and many may know him as Din Djarin in the massively successful Star Warsspinoff The Mandalorian. Although these are his most recognized roles today, he has had a long journey and some milestones along the way that accelerated his career exponentially.


How Pedro Pascal Got His Start

Pedro Pascal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The WB

Outside a few short films, his first role was an appearance on a TV show named Good vs Evil in 1999. He continued to take on small parts on minor shows and gradually started booking roles in more high-profile TV series. He landed the small role of Edward in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, his first big role. He proceeded to book roles on Law & Order several times, six episodes on The Good Wife as Nathan Landry, and many more minor characters throughout his early career.


Devoted to the Craft

Interestingly enough, in 2011, Pascal was cast in an unaired NBC pilot for a Wonder Woman television adaptation, but the series was ultimately not picked up; the actor would be given a second chance to share the screen with the legendary superhero nine years later in Wonder Woman 1984. After 15 years in Hollywood, Pascal got his first major role in 2014 as Oberyn Martell in the fourth season of Game of Thrones, with his career skyrocketing from that moment forward.

Game of Thrones

Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell, wearing a yellow outfit from Dorne in Game of Thrones
HBO


Game of Thrones, based on the immensely popular A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin, was one of the most viewed and highest-quality shows on TV at the time and was the perfect opportunity for Pascal to show the world what he could do as an actor. He originally auditioned for another role but was not picked. However, according to Variety, Pascal landed the role after he convinced his close friend Sarah Paulson to give his audition to her best friend and David Benioff’s wife, Amanda Peet. The creators of Game of Thrones were so impressed with Pascal’s audition that they considered him for portraying the character Oberyn Martell.

Pascal’s Breakthough Performance

After a handful of auditions, Pascal landed the role, and despite Oberyn only hanging around for one season, Pascal’s performance was so captivating he made Oberyn one of the most memorable characters in the entire series. Pascal received a nomination for his performance from the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. He opened up about the importance of his time on Game of Thrones and the impact of his character’s epic death, telling Esquire in 2022:


“Makes me feel like a boss. I’m actually up there and if I’m in the top three, I mean then, like, everything after is a bit futile. It’s like, what am I doing? Why am I still trying? I did it.”

Narcos

Pedro Pascal as Javier Pena pointing at a cork board in Narcos
Netflix

Pascal’s incredible performance in Game of Thrones propelled his career and helped land him his first breakout leading role. In the show Narcos, Pascal played Drug Enforcement Agent Javier Pena and, along with co-star Wagner Moura, became the show’s breakout stars. Narcos is based on the true story of the profound efforts carried out by authorities to bring down Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Pascal is the lead in this series, but it is a bit of an ensemble drama where viewers follow several characters throughout the series.


Continued Television Success

The show was fantastic but did not become the sensation that some other drug lord-inspired shows, such as Breaking Bad and Ozark, became. However, despite the show not escalating to that level of fame, Pascal’s performance was so fantastic that his character was brought back for the third and final season, and he assumed the role as narrator and lead star. The exposure from the thrilling program then helped him land the most prominent project of his career: The Mandalorian.

Related: Pedro Pascal’s 10 Most Unforgettable Movie Performances, Ranked

The Mandalorian

Pedro Pascal stars in The Mandalorian
Disney+


After several auditions, The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau cast Pascal as Din Djarin, a Mandalorian bounty hunter in The Mandalorian. The Star Wars spinoff is a huge hit and is still going strong today. It’s not simply the built-in fan base that keeps the show afloat, but a whole new following who fell in love with Pascal’s character and his precious cargo, Grogu, or as fans have nicknamed the green little one, “Baby Yoda.”

Pascal Showcases His Range

This role genuinely tested Pascal’s abilities as an actor because, for most of the show, a helmet covers his face. He has to rely solely on his voice and body movement behind the mask to suck the audience into the story, and he does so incredibly well. Not to mention, the character is incredibly stoic in the first place. The role of Din Djarin, although not the most emotionally acrobatic feat for an actor, is a unique role that allowed Pascal to flex acting muscles that he has not had the chance to demonstrate.


The Last of Us

Joel standing in front of Ellie, holding her back as clickers walk around them in a scene from The Last of Us.
HBO

Any indicator that Pascal’s career will be stifled anytime soon is nowhere in sight. Whereas Disney produces high-quality content, nothing quite matches the caliber of shows that come out of HBO, and The Last of Us is no exception. Pascal landed the role of the lead in this video game adaptation. He plays Joel, a long-suffering and often ruthless father who lost his only daughter at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse.

Related: The Last of Us Season 2: Plot, Cast, and Everything Else We Know


Role of a Lifetime

20 years later, he’s on a voyage across the states protecting the infection-immune teenager Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey. In The Last of Us, Pascal has no mask like the Mandalorian, so it is a very different performance type where we see every aspect of his acting chops. He has already garnered numerous accolades for his exeptional performance, including a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination, and the series has become a smash hit with audiences. At face value, his role as Joel may be the best of his career… so far.

Big & Small Screen Superstar

Pedro Pascal & Nicolas Cage star in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Lionsgate 

Pascal has solidified himself as a legendary actor in the TV industry, but in the film industry, not quite yet. He’s landed some fun roles in several big-budget films. He played the suave Agent Whiskey in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the lead antagonist in Wonder Woman: 1984, and Javi Gutierrez, an eccentric millionaire and Nicolas Cage’s biggest fan in the hilarious film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He plays all parts exceptionally well, but these aren’t the type of films to produce roles that will land an actor any real prestige.


Shifting His Focus to Film

Given Pascal’s proven talent, work ethic, and ability to take on a diverse range of characters, he still has much to offer the world and it seems he has no plans of slowing down his Hollywood takeover. In fact, his career could very well reach new heights in the coming years, as it was announced in February 2024 that Pascal would be starring as Reed Richards in the upcoming MCU film The Fantastic Four, a project that will likely further establish him as a major leading man.

Pascal Joins The MCU

Pedro Pascal to star as Reed Richards in The Fantastic Four
Photo Credit: IGN


Pascal’s spectacular rise to stardom only keeps intensifying, and now that he will be joining the MCU for the newest incarnation of The Fantastic Four, it seems apparent his fame will reach new heights. In the buzzed about reboot, Pascal will be joined by Vanessa Kirby, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Joseph Quinn and will tackle the role of Reed Richards A.K.A. Mister Fantastic; the film will be a part of the MCU’s Phase Six and is slated to hit theaters on July 25, 2025.

Bona fide Leading Man

Despite Fantastic Four fans pondering the reasoning behind the reboot, seeing as the latest attempt at bringing the superheroes to life in 2015 proved to be a lackluster endeavor, they seem united in their excitement for Pascal’s joining of the project. He should have no problem making the character his own and has a lot of experience with joining fan-favorite franchises and leaving his mark, and Marvel should be no exception. While he’s playing coy on what the new film will be about, Pascal did tell Entertainment Tonight:


“I can tell you how excited I am, which is beyond! There isn’t anything more exciting than being in a cast like that; Vanessa Kirby, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Joe Quinn and our director Matt Shakman. To be invited to a family like that is unbelievable, and we all just want to do our best and share it with the world.”

What’s Next?

Pedro Pascal to star in Gladiator 2
Photo Credit: ComicBook.com

Outside of joining the MCU and preparing to portray an unforgettable superhero, Pascal has quite a few diverse upcoming projects in the works that are sure to thrill his devoted fans. He will be providing his distinct voice for the sci-fi animated film The Wild Robot and will share the screen with Paul Mescal and Denzel Washington in Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama Gladiator 2, a sequel to the 2000 Academy Award-winning blockbuster. Pascal’s role in the long-awaited film is being kept under wraps, but audiences are excited nonetheless.


Dominating the Industry

As if that isn’t enough to keep the beloved actor busy, Pascal is also headlining the film noir thriller Tropica, in which he will work with the talented Willem Dafoe and Morena Baccarin and will likely further show off his impeccable range as a performer. Finally, Stranger Things fans will be pleased to know Pascal will star opposite David Harbour in the HBO limited series My Dentist’s Murder Trial, proving that he can dominate the television and film world and do so flawlessly. The sky is truly the limit for the charismatic and lovable Pedro Pascal.

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