Having played Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones and Javier Peña on Narcos, I figured the Chilean-born Pedro Pascal must be dripping with swagger. But sitting in an ultra-hip WeHo coffee shop watching actors and models sip boxed water, I start to question my assumptions when an unassuming, doped up (recovering from a root canal), apologetic (he had a cold and urged me to wash my hands), and injured (possible herniated disk) Pedro Pascal walks in.
It makes sense that he is out of sorts—life has been nonstop for the last few years. “I had 36 hours in Los Angeles before I went from Colombia to Beijing for nearly five months [shooting The Great Wall with Matt Damon], and then I went to do the second season [of Narcos], and then there was overlap between the second season and Kingsman 2 [Kingsman: The Golden Circle with Colin Firth], which was in London.”
He told me the back injury probably originated on Game of Thrones. “If you aren’t completely physically lame, they want you to do [your own stunts]. Whether it ends up on film or not, you’re gonna at least try. And they’re gonna film it. And you’re gonna fly off the wall. And they’re gonna put you in the harness. And you’re gonna do the flips. And of course these are all new big jobs for me so I am saying ‘yes’ to everything and it is fun at first and then it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to break.’
Pascal came to the States at a young age when his parents sought political asylum—a drastic transition from Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile to the Californian suburban landscape of the late ‘70s. “It’s really strange to me when I think about it in retrospect because, as a kid, that’s what was normal to me: completely unsupervised childhood with socialist political refugees. My dad was a doctor and he loved movies. He would take us to movies and [we would] watch loads of TV together as a family. That became my primary socialization, and the cliché of my wanting to be in movies from childhood.”
Pascal started his studies as a self-proclaimed “drama nerd” at Orange County School of the Arts where he was classmates with Dante Basco (Rufio, for everyone over 30). “When I moved to Orange County, I didn’t fit into the Newport Beach crowd and I didn’t have friends for a while so my consumption of movies became more sophisticated and more gracious. I started renting classics and I started reading plays so when I started at OCSA, I already had a head start because I had read so much.”
Having moved to New York to continue his studies, Pascal began auditioning after college, waiting tables in-between small parts in plays, TV shows, and independent films. His paradigm shift happened when he was cast as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones, quickly becoming
a fan favorite on one of the most popular shows on television.
“I knew early on that Thrones was a game changer. My primary concern was just to service it and not fuck it up. Only because I watch it—I’m such a viewer. It initially really pissed me off because
it was a part that I didn’t think that I would get. It was absolutely clear to me that those parts are rare. I remember when getting a guest spot on Law & Order felt like it changed my life at the time. The idea of being employed changes your life in this kind of work. It may never happen, but it can happen any time.”
Looking into the vast future of his career, Pascal mused on what opportunities he dreams of. “I don’t know what a dream job is, honestly. I know what a dream experience is. Maybe, coming to certain kinds of work a little later in life makes you care a little more about the experience than the actual job. The idea of getting to work with friends or doing something that I have a really good time doing, that’s the dream job. I’m not trying to be noble in my answer at all. I mean it. I really do.”
With that, Pedro Pascal flashes a smile, shakes my hand, and says goodbye, before first reminding me to wash my hands—the man is, after all, sick.
Written By Jon-Barrett Ingels
Photographer: Dani Brubaker for Welcome Management.
Stylist: Leah Adicoff.
Groomer: KC Fee for The Wall Group.
Location: Smoky Hollow Studios.