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.
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.
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.”
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.”