He may be all over our TV screens now, starring in zeitgeist-defining hit series like The Last of Us and The Mandalorian, but Pedro Pascal has been steadily working on screens both big and small for decades to get there. After all, you don't become everybody's new favorite actor and the Internet's daddy overnight.
Pascal, né José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal, was born on April 2, 1975 in Santiago, Chile, during the time of the Pinochet dictatorship. His parents opposed the regime and, shortly after he was born, the family sought refuge first in Denmark and then the U.S., settingly in San Antonio, Texas, and later, in Orange County, California. Pascal developed an interest in drama at a young age, and after graduating the Orange County School of the Arts, studied at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Two of his siblings are also involved in the arts: His older sister, Javiera, worked on the Oscar-nominated Argentina, 1985 and attended this year's Oscars ceremony with Pascal, while younger sister Lux is a Juilliard-trained actress and transgender activist.
Pascal's earliest gigs saw him guest starring on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Touched by an Angel and three different iterations of Law & Order, amongst other one-off appearances. He broke out as the beloved Prince Oberyn Martell on season four of Game of Thrones, before landing the lead role of DEA Agent Javier Peña on the Netflix cartel drama, Narcos. Over the years, Pascal has played heroes and villains alike, winning over audiences with his natural charisma and versatile talent.
As Pascal celebrates his 48th birthday, A.frame looks back on some of his best film work to date, with more to come: He'll next star opposite Ethan Hawke in Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar's upcoming Strange Way of Life.
Pascal's first role in a feature length film came courtesy of Argentinian filmmaker Julia Solomonoff (also her feature directorial debut). Hermanas tells the story of two sisters who flee Argentina during the military junta in 1976 and end up leading two different lives as one heads to Spain and the other to Texas. They eventually reunite in Texas and slowly begin reconnecting, with Pascal playing a small part as one sister’s love interest.
This quirky horror comedy was an early leading role for Pascal and a chance to use his natural carisma as an entertaining villain. Bloodsucking Bastards follows cubicle drone Evan (played by Fran Kranz) as he discovers his new boss Max (Pascal) is a vampire turning all of his co-workers into bloodthirsty fiends.
This action-adventure epic from filmmaker Yimou Zhang stars Matt Damon and Pascal as European mercenaries in China in search of the secret of gunpowder. They soon find themselves helping to fight alien monsters along the country’s most famous landmark. William (Damon) and Tovar (Pascal) have a contentious but ultimately friendly relationship, one which allows Pascal to showcase his star quality alongside Damon's.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a wild ride, and its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle proved to be even wilder, aided with a suitably over-the-top performance by Pascal. He plays Jack Daniels (code name Whiskey), the Southern twangy, cowboy hat-wearing agent in the American bureau of the Kingsmen. The conspiracy hijinks abound, and Pascal steals the show a bit with his swagger, almost seducing Halle Berry’s fellow operative Ginger (somehow she resists).
Before he was everyone’s favorite reluctant hero in charge of vulnerable young beings with special gifts, Pascal played a similar but more morally gray role in Prospect. On an alien moon, Cee (Yellowjackets' Sophie Thatcher) and her father Damon (Jay Duplass) are hunting for gems in a poisonous atmosphere when they encounter Ezra (Pascal), a questionable prospector. Cee and Ezra end up having to rely on each other to survive not only the natural threats, but the human ones as well.
Pascal makes the unfortunate decision to double cross Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 2, the sequel to the 2014 hit. Playing Dave York, Pascal stars alongside Washington’s Robert McCall, seemingly helping to investigate a murder close to both of them, only to deliver a heel turn and betray McCall. Pascal more than holds his own against the powerhouse that is two-time Oscar winner Washington.
Though his role in the Barry Jenkins romantic drama is a small one, Pascal still makes an impression in his scene with Regina King in 2018's If Beale Street Could Talk. His character is pivotal in helping her find the woman who made a false accusation of rape against her son, so she can attempt to clear his name. For her powerful work in the film, King went on to receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
This action-adventure saw Pascal team up with an all-star team of Hollywood faves, including Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund. Together, they play former U.S. Army Delta Force operators who reunite to plan and execute a heist in South America that involves a crime lord and millions of dollars. Each actor gets a chance to shine with their character’s skills, including Pascal as the team’s pilot.
As Max Lord, Pascal is the sleazy, greedy, yet charismatic villain of the blockbuster sequel to Wonder Woman. Max seeks ultimate power after securing a wishing stone that grants him, not to mention Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, and everyone else in the whole world, everything they could desire. Wonder Woman gives in, but realizes that the wishes come with a price. The strong-willed superhero must then race to stop Max before he wishes himself into world domination.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent served as a comeback vehicle for Nicolas Cage to poke fun at himself and the public’s perception of him. Aiding him in this task is Pascal, who plays Javi, an enthusiastic fan who also happens to be a possibly criminal billionaire playboy who hires Cage for a million dollars to appear at his birthday party. The two bond over their love of the family comedy Paddington 2 and, after a few ups and downs, create a beautiful friendship and a wonderfully meta, over-the-top action-comedy in the process.