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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Pedro Pascal’s Life and Career

Why he changed his last name, what song he wants played at his funeral and more


spinner image pedro pascal poses for flaunt magazine
Dani Brubaker/Contour by Getty Images

Pedro Pascal, 48, has captivated audiences with his easygoing, irreverent style. He’s been dubbed “Daddy Pascal” for his leading roles in The Last of Us (HBO) and The Mandalorian (Disney+). But before his sweeping success in Game of Thrones and Narcos, his acting career got off to a difficult start, and he knocked on a lot of doors before anyone believed in him. Here are seven little-known facts about this increasingly popular actor.

spinner image actor pedro pascal in new york city in 2005
Pedro Pascal in New York City in 2005, before his career took off in Hollywood. He made his directorial debut in 2008 with the play "underneathmybed."
Brad Barket/Getty Images

1. He changed his last name to honor the love of his life

Born in Santiago, Chile, Pascal is the son of child psychologist Verónica Pascal and fertility doctor José Balmaceda. His parents fled Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. When he was in his 20s, Pascal had to deal with his mother’s suicide. “It’s hard to say what I most remember about her. ... She was the love of my life. I think of her every day. Since I don’t pray, I can’t say I have a practice that helps me feel her close, but I live for her, even though she’s no longer here, and that makes sense to me,” he told the Chilean newspaper La Tercera. To honor his mother, he began using her last name Pascal.

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spinner image pedro pascal hosting saturday night live
Pedro Pascal delivers a monologue as guest host on "Saturday Night Live," where he talked about the strong ties he has with his family in his native Chile. 
Will Heath/NBC vía Getty Images

2. He shares a chat group called Scoundrels with 34 cousins

José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal (his full name) is the second of four siblings. He speaks Spanish and is proud of his Chilean roots. He says he has 34 first cousins who are part of a chat group called Sinvergüenzas (Scoundrels). “They all have my phone number, and they give it out. I get messages every day. … They will let me be myself … but I think that there are no limits for what may be requested,” he said jovially on The Graham Norton Show. During his monologue on Saturday Night Live, he talked about his close family ties: “They are very proud of me,” he acknowledged. Then, addressing his family directly on live TV: “I love you, I miss you, and stop giving out my phone number.”

spinner image pedro pascal as oberyn martell in a scene from the hbo series game of thrones
Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell in Season 4 of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" (2014).
HBO/Alamy Stock Photo

3. Making his fans happy got him an eye infection

Pascal vaulted to fame in the role of Oberyn Martell a.k.a. “the Red Viper” on Game of Thrones. “Game of Thrones was this … kind of ideal experience getting to play this beautifully written iconic character who has a big in and a big out in one very solid season,” he told Entertainment Weekly. The gruesome death of Prince Oberyn — in a duel in which Gregor Clegane, a warrior known as “the Mountain,” crushes his skull by pressing down brutally on his eyes with his thumbs — inspired Pascal’s fans, who tried to recreate the scene whenever they came across Pascal at various events. “People were super into taking selfies with their thumbs in my eyes ... and I would let them ... and I remember getting a little bit of an eye infection.”

spinner image pedro pascal on the red carpet at the venice film festival
Pascal has said that although he doesn’t practice any religion, he is no stranger to spirituality.
Laurent Koffel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

4. “Purple Rain” is the song he’d like played at his funeral

He’s already chosen the song he’d like to be played at his funeral. He explained his choice while eating chicken wings and testing his tolerance of various hot sauces during an interview for the YouTube channel First We Feast: “I didn’t go to church. I was raised by HBO, [Steven] Spielberg and Prince, and for me, ‘Purple Rain’ is like the most emotionally cathartic, the most musically sophisticated song that I can think of.”

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spinner image pedro pascal and bella ramsey riding a horse in a scene from the hbo series the last of us
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the hit HBO series "The Last of Us." According to Pascal, the character of Joel has a strong paternal side in the story.
HBO/Alamy Stock Photo

5. He doesn’t know whether he wants children

Pascal projects an image of a mature, attractive, protective man, which on social media has earned him the monikers “Daddy Pascal” and “Papi Pascal.” He has no children of his own, but he’s amused that the public sees him this way, and he chalks it up to the characters he played in The Mandalorian and The Last of Us. “Yeah, I am having fun with it. I think that it seems a little role-related, I think. There was a period where the Mandalorian is very daddy to baby Grogu; Joel is very daddy to Ellie. These are daddy parts,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I am not a daddy. I’m not gonna be a daddy,” he said, laughing. In an interview with Wired magazine in January 2023, he underscored he’s not sure whether he wants to be a father.

spinner image pedro pascal poses for a photo alongside his sister lux pascal
Pedro Pascal with his sister, Lux Pascal, in New York City. The actor has expressed his deep respect and admiration for Lux.
Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

6. He is an active advocate for the LGBTQ+ community

Pascal never passes up an opportunity to show his unconditional support for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2023, he costarred with Ethan Hawke in Strange Way of Life, a Western short film directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. He also has been fully supportive of his younger sister, Lux Pascal, who came out as transgender in 2021. Pedro expressed his tremendous love and admiration for her: “I wouldn’t want to speak on her behalf, but she is and has always been one of the most powerful people and personalities I’ve ever known. My protective side is lethal, but I need her more than she needs me,” he told Esquire magazine.

spinner image pedro pascal at the 2023 met gala at the metropolitan museum of art in new york city
Pedro Pascal on the red carpet of the MET Gala 2023 in New York City, sporting a striking red Valentino suit.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

7. He’s doing great with calisthenics

To embody the physical and mental strength of Joel, the lead character in The Last of Us, Pascal worked with celebrity trainer David Higgins, who designed an intensive exercise regimen for him. In an interview with GQ, Higgins said Pascal excelled in his workouts: “He’s so athletic, and he has so much potential; he doesn’t necessarily realize how good he is.”

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