Pedro Pascal, the latest key player in Game Of Thrones, has left a big impression
on fans of the series.
If you're going to come late to the party, you better make one heck of an entrance – and arguably, there have been few introductions that made as big a splash as Pedro Pascal’s in epic fantasy television series Game Of Thrones (GOT).
Playing the dangerously fascinating Oberyn of House Martell, a prince from Dorne with a prodigious appetite for both sex and revenge, Pascal had his work cut out for him, not just to live up to fans’ expectations, but to stand out in an already crowded field.
The part he plays, however, is rich with possibilities. Oberyn, or the Red Viper as he is known, has never forgiven the Lannisters for the murder of his sister Elia; while he may be at King’s Landing at their invitation, there is certainly more on his mind than a social visit.
During a recent phone interview from New York, 39-year-old Pascal (previously seen in shows like The Mentalist and Homeland) says he’s never had more fun with a character – and he’s not just talking about the raunchy scenes. (“I was only half-naked, really!” he laughs. “I managed to keep my pants on; I don’t know how, but I did!”)
“I think (show creators) David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have seized the chance to realise a brilliant character by (author) George R.R. Martin. Oberyn is very dangerous and quite fearless; he goes up against some of the most dangerous people in Westeros without fear, which is very unique.”
Pascal also relishes the opportunity to play a character so obviously apart from everyone else, even in a show where practically everyone is at odds with each other.
“He sounds different, he moves different. He has integrity, he’s a loyal partner and a fierce warrior, and it was nothing but delicious to play him. I would love to attribute my own character to him, but living like that, I don’t know how long I would last!” he says.
If reviews and fans’ responses are anything to go by, Pascal has certainly won them over with his smouldering depiction, and that too in only seven episodes. But what episodes they’ve been! Thus far, we’ve seen Oberyn face off with Tyrion, Tywin and Cersei Lannister, not to mention steam up the screen with a tangle of lovers.
“There’s so much to learn from this character!” shares Pascal. “He approaches life with such fearlessness. He does not limit himself from experience and pleasure, he’s a world traveller, a good father, and a fierce warrior, but ultimately, he’s a very progressive thinker. He refuses to play by old conventions, and I think that is very revolutionary, and to me, very honourable.”
On a more personal level, the Chile-born actor found he could relate to Oberyn’s need to avenge his sister. Granted political asylum in Denmark and then later the United States during the Pinochet regime in Chile, Pascal is very attached to his elder sister.
“There’s only one person who has been everywhere I have in my life, and that’s my sister. Right there was an immediate connection to Oberyn, because it seems like his sister is his greatest love, and so much of his person is shaped by her death.”
Oberyn’s biggest moment thus far, perhaps, was in this season’s seventh episode, Mockingbird, where he volunteers to stand as the wrongly-accused Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) champion in a fight against the man who killed Elia, the gargantuan Gregor Clegane (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson). It was a momentous scene that saw both Pascal and Dinklage turning in superb performances, and is likely to be remembered as one of the season’s best.
Surprisingly, it was the very first scene Pascal shot for the show, and the importance of it wasn’t lost on him. Add to the fact that he was going to be working with the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning Dinklage, he was naturally rather nervous. As it turned out, he had little to worry about.
“Working with Peter Dinklage was very relaxing and exciting. He’s a very generous and inviting actor, and he’s one of the best people I’ve worked with. Very soon, it became two actors on equal ground.
“It was quite emotional seeing the episode for the first time (when it aired), all my memories came flooding back because it was the beginning of my journey on the show.”
Meanwhile, the episode has also left the show’s fans waiting with bated breath for the upcoming The Mountain And The Viper, which finally gives Oberyn a chance to exact his long-awaited revenge upon Clegane, the Mountain. According to Pascal, he prepared for the role by training in wushu, and the duel, which was shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, took about five days to shoot.
“It was in an incredibly decorated set, and it had an exciting fulfilment while we were shooting it, because it felt just as epic as people are anticipating. It was a very harrowing shoot for everyone,” he recalls.
But if GOT fans know anything, it is this: no head is ever safe in Westeros. Could this be when we bid adieu to the hot-headed, hedonistic prince of Dorne? Pascal has only one thing to say: “Keep your fingers crossed!”
> Game Of Thrones airs every Sunday at 10pm on HBO (Astro Ch 411/HD Ch 431).