From the Mandalorian to the notorious Maxwell Lord, our actor highlight is a master at playing both good and evil. This is Pedro Pascal, today's Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight actor.
How You Know Him
Pedro Pascal has carved a name out for himself on the small screen. On TV, you know him as the eponymous "Mandalorian." He also played Oberyn Martell on "Game of Thrones" and portrayed DEA agent Javier Peña in "Narcos" for Netflix.
In film, his biggest role (to date) came at the end of last year, playing billionaire supervillain Maxwell Lord in "Wonder Woman 1984." He has also turned in captivating performances in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Triple Frontier," "The Equalizer 2," and Robert Rodriguez's "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" follow-up "We Can Be Heroes."
His Life So Far
Born José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal in Santiago, Chile, Pedro Pascal comes from a politically active family. His sister Lux Pascal is an actress and a transgender activist. His parents were also activists. In the 1970s they were outspoken supporters of socialist President Salvador Allende. His mother, Verónica, was the cousin of Allende's nephew, Andrés Pascal Allende, the then-leader of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left. The group aimed to overthrow General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship that just came to power in 1973.
To escape political prosecution, the family sought refuge at the Venezuelan Embassy in Santiago. They were later granted political asylum in Denmark. By the time Pascal was 8, his family had moved to the United States.
Pascal grew up in Orange County, CA and San Antonio, TX. However, his family made frequent trips back to Chile to visit with his large family. Pascal became a competitive swimmer in school. But it was in acting where he found his biggest passion.
After graduating from NYU's famed Tisch School of the Arts, Pascal started professional work in television. You can spot him in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Without a Trace," "Homeland," and all major spin-offs of "Law & Order." Pascal also had regular appearances in "The Good Wife," "The Mentalist," and "Graceland." In a foreshadowing of a casting to come, in 2011, he landed a role in the never-aired "Wonder Woman" pilot for NBC.
Pascal drew major attention when he landed the role of Oberyn Martell for the fourth season of "Game of Thrones." As a huge fan of the show, he was excited to join the cast. Not long after that, he turned up on the Netflix show "Narcos," playing Javier Peña.
Along with his TV work, Pascal was also making a name for himself in theater as an actor and director. One such notable performance was his award-winning work in the International City Theater production of "Orphans." Among other credits, he also appeared in the Off-Broadway production of "Maple and Vine," and the 2006 Shakespeare in the Park production of "Macbeth."
His first major film role was in the workplace horror-comedy "Bloodsucking Bastards." In the movie he played sales-manager-turned-vampire Max Phillips. He followed that up with higher-profile roles. In 2017 he appeared as Agent Whiskey in Matthew Vaughn's "Kingsman: The Golden Circle." He also starred alongside Matt Damon in the Chinese-American co-production "The Great Wall." In 2018, he starred against Denzel Washington as the main villain Dave York in "The Equalizer 2."
2019 was a big year for Pascal. He landed the title role on Disney's Western-themed "Star Wars" series "The Mandalorian." Also that year, he starred alongside Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac in J. C. Chandor's ensemble military heist drama "Triple Frontier." In 2020, he turned in his biggest role, so far, as Maxwell Lord in the DCEU entry "Wonder Woman 1984."
The Movie to See
While starring in big action flicks, in 2018, Pedro Pascal turned in a more understated performance. This was as the lead in the indie sci-fi film "Prospect." Unlike most sci-fi thrillers, "Prospect" is largely character-driven. Fans of "The Mandalorian" might even notice some similar Western motifs. Jay Duplass and Sophie Thatcher are father and daughter, making their way across a forest moon searching for valuable gems. They soon encounter Pascal's Ezra, a rival prospector, and his silent companion. The two groups decide to join forces to locate an even more valuable dig site.
"Prospect" premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2018, and critics applauded its character-focused drama. Much of the praise went to Pascal and co-star Thatcher, who elevated the script with their performances. Thatcher actually will be joining Lucasfilms in an as-yet-unnamed project. Could she be re-teaming with her "Prospect" co-star for the next season of "The Mandalorian?"
What's Up Next
Along with the upcoming Season 3 of "The Mandalorian," Pedro Pascal has several different projects on deck. He'll be appearing in Judd Apatow's Netflix COVID comedy "The Bubble." You can also look for him in the upcoming Nic Cage meta-comedy "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." On the TV side, he'll lead another hotly anticipated adaptation, HBO's "The Last of Us," based on the popular video game franchise. Oh, and it wouldn't surprise us if his "Mandalorian" character pops up at some point on Disney+'s "The Book of Boba Fett."
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.