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Pedro Pascal's Journey From Law & Order To The Last Of Us

Whether you were introduced to him through "Game of Thrones," "Narcos," "The Mandalorian," or "The Last of Us," you've probably become a fan of Pedro Pascal. The Chilean-born actor has built quite a reputation over the last several years as one of the most likable and in-demand actors around. Pascal brings his good looks, natural charisma, and subtle physicality into his roles in a number of different ways, making the most of every character he steps into.

Whether he's bringing a literary character to life or lending his talents to someone wholly original, you always know that Pedro Pascal is going to deliver a memorable performance. His acting talents are certainly commendable, but there's a lot more to this self-proclaimed daddy that only diehard fans might know. From his family's dramatic story of immigration to his hilarious way of self-soothing when he feels a bit down, there is plenty to learn about the man behind the helmet in "The Mandalorian" and beyond.

So grab your spear and don't lose your head — here's a collection of facts you need to know about Pedro Pascal. This is the way.

His family fled Chile because of opposition to the military dictatorship

Pedro Pascal was born in 1975 in Chile's capital city of Santiago. Less than a year after he was born, however, Pascal's parents sought political asylum, and the family had to flee the country.

At the time, Chile was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. In an interview with Time, Pascal explained that his mother's cousin was "very primary in the opposition against the military regime," although his parents weren't overly involved. However, they did help hide people from the government and soon found themselves in danger. They made it to the Venezuelan embassy seeking political asylum, were then moved to Denmark, and finally settled in the United States.

Despite this fraught childhood, Pascal still feels a deep connection to his birthplace. A few years after Pinochet lost power in 1990, Pascal's parents moved home with some of his younger siblings. He still goes back and visits family frequently in Chile, and he also feels immense gratitude that his life and the lives of his family turned out relatively normal — which is understandable, considering how much danger they were once in.

He was a competitive swimmer as a child, but gave it up when he discovered acting

After his family made it to the United States, they settled in San Antonio. Even though he started acting fairly early in his life, it wasn't the first thing he took seriously. That award goes to competitive swimming. Pascal was a strong enough swimmer that he actually competed in a state championship when he was just 11 years old.

In a Reddit AMA, Pascal mentioned that, though he enjoyed swimming, he stopped soon after he started his first acting class — apparently, he'd found his calling. He also mentions that, to this day, he still feels very comfortable in the water.

All things considered, it's a win-win that Pascal pursued acting instead of swimming. His fans get to enjoy an amazing talent, and he doesn't have to put his body through such a difficult workout. In the same Q&A, Pascal claims he's far too lazy to have kept up swimming, and just going to the gym or eating healthy is a challenge for him.

He broke his arm pretending to be Indiana Jones twice

Once Pascal got bitten by the acting bug, he dove in headfirst. For a precocious preteen, however, that involved some danger — Pascal caused serious bodily harm to himself on multiple occasions by acting out what he'd seen on screen.

In an Interview Magazine discussion with his close friend Sarah Paulson, Pascal described how he broke his arm on two separate occasions by trying to follow in the footsteps of Indiana Jones. The first time came after he saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Pascal tied a series of sheets together and tried to climb the side of his house. The next time came a few years later when he was riding a horse and spurred it to a gallop, trying to ride as fast as Dr. Jones. Unfortunately, Pascal was not as talented an equestrian as Harrison Ford's stunt double was — the horse threw him off and Pascal broke his left arm again.

To Pascal's credit, the third time he broke his left arm, he claims he was much older and that it had nothing to do with imitating Indiana Jones.

He is apparently not the best at auditions

Every actor seems to have some audition horror stories, and Pascal is no different in that regard. The actor definitely had a hard time locking down some of his earliest auditions.

Speaking to Sarah Paulson in Interview Magazine, Pascal recalls his first audition — the 1996 film "Primal Fear." Pascal did not say what role he auditioned for, but he recalled, "I was totally in over my head. I auditioned for that in New York and then I went to L.A. for it. I didn't get it and was unemployed for about 10 years." He's exaggerating a bit in that regard — Pascal had a number of guest roles in the years that followed — but it would be more than a decade before he was acting regularly in film or television.

Pascal's odd auditions don't stop there. For his breakout role as Oberyn Martell on "Game of Thrones," showrunner David Benioff only watched his audition because his wife was friends with Pascal's buddy Sarah Paulson. Benioff told Variety that he remembered Pascal's unusual, selfie audition, shot on an old iPhone: "It looked like s**t; it was shot vertical; the whole thing was very amateurish." That said, he recalls the performance blowing him away.

He changed his name to honor his mother after her death

If you check out some of Pedro Pascal's earliest roles, you might notice that he worked under a different stage name. Originally, he worked under the name Pedro Balmaceda, which was his father's last name, although this caused some issues. The actor told Variety, "Americans had such a hard time pronouncing Balmaceda." However, in 1999, Pascal's family went through a terrible tragedy when his mother died.

Pascal was still struggling to land regular acting work at the time, and his mother's death hit him hard. He told People, "She was always incredibly supportive, never a stage mom... I always felt like she knew something that I didn't." Shortly after her death, he changed his stage name from Balmaceda to Pascal, his mother's maiden name, to pay tribute to a woman who had meant so much to him. Verónica had worked as a child psychologist, and Pascal pins much of his success on the way his parents had shielded him from some of the most difficult aspects of his childhood.

He's been on tons of police procedurals, including three versions of Law & Order

Serial television shows are the bread-and-butter roles for a number of actors who are getting their feet wet, so it should come as no surprise that some of Pascal's earliest recognizable parts came in the form of guest spots. Even still, the number of police procedural style shows he appeared in is still pretty impressive.

Some of his earliest roles came in the late '90s and early 2000s when Pascal popped up on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "NYPD Blue," and "Touched by an Angel." A few years later, the floodgates opened, with Pascal landing roles on "Without a Trace," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Nikita," and "Homeland," among others.

Of course, that's ignoring the criminal justice system in the room. Pascal has appeared four times in three different versions of "Law & Order." He first got a role in a 2006 episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," then kicked it back to the original series in 2008 before appearing in an entirely different role in a 2009 episode of "Criminal Intent." He finally closed (for now, at least) his "Law & Order" career with a 2011 episode of "Special Victims Unit."

He was a major Game of Thrones fan before being cast

There are hundreds of actors out there who work regularly and never become stars. For many years, Pedro Pascal fit that mold. Like many of those same actors, all it takes is one big break to go from a background character to a leading role, and Pascal got his chance as the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, on "Game of Thrones."

Heck, you might not even call it a break. Let's say he burst onto the scene instead.

In a Reddit AMA, Pascal talked about how surreal it was to be cast on a show that he was already such a fan of. He claims it persisted throughout his run on the series, saying, "It never really let up, there was never a point of adjustment, I never landed completely. I was kind of in awe of it throughout." Pascal told GQ that he developed important friendships from his short time on the series, and he obviously recognizes that it launched his career to the next level. He even got to return to Dubrovnik, where many of his "Game of Thrones" scenes were filmed, when he starred in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" alongside Nicolas Cage.

His role in Wonder Woman 1984 was his second time being cast alongside the comic book hero

Pascal has so much underlying charisma that his casting as the larger-than-life villain Maxwell Lord in "Wonder Woman 1984" seemed like a slam dunk. The sequel to a standout film in the DCEU hit some stumbles, however. It was one of the first Warner Bros. films to debut on HBO as well as theatres due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it didn't quite resonate with audiences like Patty Jenkins' original "Wonder Woman" movie did.

Oddly enough, it wasn't the first time that Pascal had a chance in a "Wonder Woman" property. In 2011, Pascal was cast in a television adaptation of "Wonder Woman," starring Adrianne Palicki as the Amazonian warrior. He played an LAPD liaison named Ed Indelicato, a character Entertainment Weekly said would be "the Commissioner Gordon to [Wonder Woman's] Batman." The pilot to the series, which also featured actors Cary Elwes, Elizabeth Hurley, and Tracie Thoms, was shot but the series was ultimately not picked up.

Pascal was so thrilled with getting to work with Jenkins again and the cultural impact her 2017 film had he briefly forgot about his 2011 chance on the "Wonder Woman" series. The actor told EW, "It's only after [being cast] that I start to remember the association and the strangeness of being part of two different Wonder Woman experiences."

He made his Broadway debut in 2019

Part of what makes Pedro Pascal such a compelling actor is the depth he brings to his characters. Even though he regularly plays roles that fall on the "good" side of the spectrum, he often brings an edge and darkness to each part that helps bring them to life.

This ability would make Pascal a perfect actor to portray villains, and he got his chance to take on a whopper of one with his most prominent theatre roles yet.

Pascal had appeared in a few major stage productions over the course of his career, but 2019 was the year that he finally arrived on Broadway. There, he played Edmund in "King Lear," one of Shakespeare's most iconic villains. Edmund betrays his older brother and father to steal an Earldom. He also shamelessly flirts and sleeps with two ruling sisters, not realizing that they are the ones using him until it's far too late. If that sounds like the perfect role for Pascal to you, you aren't alone – The Hollywood Reporter called his performance "terrific" in an otherwise uneven production.

He is a staunch LGBTQ+ ally

We already mentioned that Pascal has some deep connections to his family, and here's another story that should pull on your heartstrings a bit. In 2021, Pascal's sister, Lux, came out as transgender on the cover of the Chilean magazine Ya. After sharing the cover on his Instagram, he wrote the message "Mi hermana, mi corazón, nuestra Lux," which translates to "My sister, my heart, our Lux."

In her interview with Ya (via Today), Lux lauded her brother for always being supportive, saying, "He was one of the first people who gave me the things to form identity."

Pascal being supportive of a family member is one thing, but Forbes notes that he also regularly posts support of the LGBTQ+ community on his Instagram page. The actor often shares information about Pride month and calls out lawmakers for anti-queer legislation. It also seems he has gotten more outspoken as his fame has increased, using his visibility and reach on social media to shine a light on the causes he cares most about.

When he's feeling down, he looks at Instagram fan pages about himself

Sometimes, even the rich and famous need a cheap pick-me-up. Pedro Pascal is not any different, and he has a hilariously silly way of making himself feel better when he's a little low — he lurks on Instagram fan pages focused on himself.

Pascal sat down to take a lie detector test with Vanity Fair and revealed a number of fun facts about himself. The main fact he demonstrates is that he is a terrible liar — he can't stop laughing or making bizarre facial expressions throughout the amusing interview. One of the better exchanges comes early on when Pascal is grilled a bit about being a "heartthrob."

Pascal fields a few softball questions about it, but then the interviewer slams it home with, "Do you ever look at Instagram accounts devoted to you being a heartthrob when you're feeling down?" Pascal holds it together for just a few seconds before erupting into laughter. "Yes, I do," is all he manages to say before later naming his favorite fan page — Pedro Pascal Fan Account. At least he recognized that he wasn't going to squirm his way out of that one!

There are entire episodes of The Mandalorian where Pascal isn't on set

Pedro Pascal's casting as the lead in "The Mandalorian" was met with a lot of happy fans, who'd seen the actor's work on big-budget series like "Narcos" and "Game of Thrones" already. However, there was an interesting wrinkle in the casting — Mandalorians, like Pascal's character Din Djarin, don't remove their helmet. Why cast an actor known for subtle expressions and smoldering good looks just to cover it all up?

Well, in some instances, they don't — Mando does take off his helmet from time to time in the series. In other episodes, though, the character remains helmeted for the entire runtime. In some instances, that even means that Pascal is barely on set.

A piece in Vulture highlights the stunt doubles who do much of the heavy lifting for the character. Pascal works closely with multiple actors — like Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder — to develop the way the Mando moves, making it nearly impossible to tell what actor is in the suit in any given shot. This makes for some interesting situations — Bryce Dallas Howard directed an episode of "The Mandalorian" where she never even worked directly with Pascal!

He got to star alongside his biggest influence

There's an old adage: never meet your heroes. We're glad Pedro Pascal ignored this advice, as it gave birth to one of 2022's most fascinating films when Pascal starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the bizarre action-comedy "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

If you haven't seen it, Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, a washed-up actor named Nick Cage, seeking the role that will bring him back into the limelight. Pascal plays a Cage superfan named Javi, who offers the actor $1 million to appear at his birthday party. Javi is also under surveillance by the CIA for his association with a massive drug cartel.

It was an easy role for Pascal to play, as he described Cage as his biggest influence as an actor in an interview with GQ. He describes his quest to be cast in the film as mostly revolving around "convincing [the filmmakers] to board me... I think that having more knowledge of Nicolas Cage in his movies than the writers writing the Nicolas Cage movie of all Nicolas Cage movies probably helped me get the part." Convoluted, but effective.

Fingers crossed — Pascal also said he wants to be involved in "Face/Off 2" if it ever gets made. Yes, please.

He failed miserably when he tried to play The Last of Us

Researching roles can be hard work for an actor, so Pascal tried to go straight to the source for one of his meatier gigs. Unfortunately for "The Last of Us" actor, he's not a very strong gamer, and he had to give up just as quickly as he started.

After he was cast as Joel, Pascal says that he ignored "The Last of Us" showrunner Craig Mazin's request that the actors avoid playing the video game the series was based on. In an interview with IGN, Pascal remembers sitting down with his nephews to try to learn a bit more about the character he'd be playing. He said, "My nephews were watching me play and eventually got tired of my inability to complete the level, so they took my controller from me." Those impatient youths — let Joel blow himself up, just like the rest of us did!

Pascal would go on to say that he is interested in becoming more of a gamer, but he's worried he will "never leave the house again" if he does. Just have your stunt doubles play your roles, Pedro!