The Rise to Fame of Pedro Pascal
| LAST UPDATE 03/12/2023
He began his career in the '90s, but it wasn't until his breakout role in Game of Thrones that Pedro Pascal was finally getting recognized as the great actor he is. And now? He's officially become Hollywood's heartthrob...
The Star of the Moment
Mr. Pascal is Hollywood's current obsession, and we totally understand why. From his "daddy" factor to his current "kooky hot grandpa" aesthetic and prestigious acting roles, Pedro is on top of the world.
However, it took Pascal a minute to get to where he is. The 47-year-old actor spent years taking smaller roles in TV shows and movies before landing his breakout role in HBO's Game of Thrones. So how exactly did he get to where he is today? We're taking a look back...
Born to child psychologist Verónica Pascal Ureta and fertility doctor José Balmaceda Riera in Santiago, Chile, the future superstar was born as Pedro Balmaceda before changing his name years later. With three siblings, Pedro and his family were all extremely close.
However, Pedro was born in Chile just two years after the then-president Salvador Allende was overthrown and ambushed. Times were tough in Chile, and his family, like many others, were uncertain of their futures. So where exactly did that leave the Balmaceda family?
His parents were both followers of Allende, as Verónica was the niece of Andres Pascal Allende, the leader of the country's Revolutionary Left Movement. Therefore, the couple was a part of resistance groups against the Pinochet dictatorship - making them enemies of the violent regime.
Being part of the country's left movement and against the Pinochet dictatorship, Pedro's parents were closely watched. Being listed as enemies, they had only so much freedom, and when Pascal was just a few months old, they were forced to figure out their next steps...
A Dangerous Escape
Pedro's father was dedicated to helping people, despite the major risks. He once aided a wounded dissident, and when the man was arrested, he was tortured into giving the regime a list of names, including Pedro's father. "They went looking for my father at the hospital he worked at," Pedro told The Rake magazine.
"By chance, it got to him that they were downstairs, asking where to find Dr. Jose Balmaceda. My father sneaks out the back and gets my mum, his sister gets my sister and me. They work out that their only option is to go into hiding," he said. They spent six months as refugees, eventually passing through Denmark and landing in the US.
At not even a year old, Pedro and his family had successfully escaped the corrupt regime in Chile and landed up in San Antonio Texas, where they were ready to start a new life together as a family. From a young age, Pascal began competitive swimming and loved watching the NBA Spurs.
However, it was his father's love for films that sparked his interest in joining a drama class, and well, that was it for him. He eventually moved to New York to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where he graduated in '97. "My mom and my driver's license saved me," he later told Paula magazine.
After attending New York University, he quickly realized that acting was much more than just a hobby for him. It had opened up a whole different universe for him - and Pedro dreamt of one day being on a poster for HBO just like Christian Bale was for Empire of the Sun. Little did he know in years to come, he would…
And he had his family to thank for it all. "I was born in Chile, and nine months later, my family had to escape Pinochet and brought me and my sisters to the United States. They were very brave, and without them, I would not be in this wonderful country," he recalled.
His On-Screen Debut
He was dedicated to working hard and achieving his dream of being an actor. So after graduating from NYU, he jumped right to the silver screen! He began his career with minor roles in TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, MTV's Undressed, Good vs. Evil, and Nurse Jackie.
In all his early moments as an actor, he was credited by his birth name -Pedro Balmaceda. Unfortunately, he was about to go through one of the most traumatic experiences of his life that forever affected him both personally and in his career going forward.
A Horrible Loss
In 1999, Pedro's mother passed away after ending her life. He was at the beginning of his career, looking for a fresh start in acting, when she tragically died. "She was the love of my life. I think about her every day," he confessed. "I live for her even though she's gone."
He continued, "Losing the most important person in your life, discovering that something like this is possible and that what you fear most in life can happen, is something that stays with you permanently and marks a before and after." Things were changing from Pedro.
After the death of his mother, Pedro's whole world started to shift. He had lost the person that was closest to him, and his career began to take a hit because of it. There was so much in his life that was changing - but he was dedicated to making it work.
Unfortunately, Pedro's career really began to slow down. Although he had repeating roles on certain shows, there wasn't anything that was sticking. His career was in a rut, and he didn't know what to do. But his personal life had suddenly gotten all the clarity it needed…
He decided he would do something that would both honor his mother and help further his career. Pedro decided to change his last name from Balmaceda to his mother's last name, Pascal. Besides being a gesture to his mother, he also saw how 'Pascal' would be easier to carry.
"Americans had a hard time pronouncing Balmaceda. It was exhausting," he said. "I was willing to do absolutely anything to work more," he recalled after deciding what to change his name to. When directors read his name, they expected a certain stereotype, and he was looking to escape that box.
Tracing His Roots
Directors were looking at Pedro and seeing a more 'European' look than Latino, and he would start getting questioned by people about his culture. "Why are you so white, but your name is Perdro?" he was once asked, to which he explained what exactly his roots were.
He told EL PAÍS in 2017, "My grandfather was Basque, and my grandmother [was] from Mallorca, [Spain]." However, he was typecasted into the same role that many Hispanic actors would get - like gang members or traffickers. But he was desperately looking to expand.
After going through such a hard time in his career and personal life, Pedro was really looking for his big break. His career felt like it had taken a step back, but he still scored a few roles in crime dramas in the early 2000s, such as The Good Wife and The Mentalist.
He also landed a role in shows such as Without a Trace, CSI, and the Law & Order franchises. However, he soon would have his big break thanks to a close friend of his: His friend and fellow actress Sarah Paulson who he met at NYU, was about to create the most pivotal connection of his life.
Enter Sarah Paulson
The year was 2013, and things were about to change. Paulson had heard of a character being cast for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, and she called up her good friend Pedro, who she thought would be perfect for the role. Paulson connected the actor to David Benioff, the GOT showrunner - and the rest was history.
Pedro sent Benioff his iPhone selfie audition tape - which the showrunner later admitted he found "unusual," but it worked. He called the whole thing "very amateurish," except for the performance. The performance, he called "intense and believable and just right," he later told Variety.
Landing the Role of a Lifetime
He might have shot his audition tape on an old iPhone, but that "amateurish" tape landed him his breakout role. Game of Thrones was already at its peak of success, with the most dedicated fanbase out there, and Pascal would soon add to it all.
So, during Season 4 of Game of Thrones, Pedro Pascal was introduced to the world as The Red Viper, otherwise known as Oberyn Martell. His chemistry with Indira Varma completely revamped the show's plot line - and although he was just on the series for seven episodes, he sure made an impact.
Game of Thrones
"It was a dream," he told GQ. "It was this great role, at the height of the show's popularity, a perfectly written season, a perfectly written role – go in, shoot for ten weeks, leave." He joked, "Nobody got a chance to be sick of me." Who could ever be sick of Pedro Pascal is the question?
All thanks to those connections and incredible talent, he was able to land the biggest role of his career. He may have only been in the series for a few episodes, but that was just the start of his relationship with HBO - a place he had always dreamed of being.
Finally Getting Noticed
He had scored the role of a lifetime, starting to gain a dedicated fanbase, and was able to finally really see his career moving forward. There was so much attention on the up-and-coming star, and Game of Thrones was just the beginning. However, Benioff felt like he deserved more.
“Once we saw the entire season, there was no doubt Pedro was going to be a star. I thought he deserved more recognition, frankly,” Benioff told Variety in 2020. Regardless, the Game of Thrones actor received a whole lotta love and attention from his fans and other people in Hollywood, which would eventually lead him to his next role.
Following his role as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, Pascal was looking for his next move. He became well-known in the industry for his ability to take on a variety of characters, and offers started rolling in. And that's when Narcos happened.
Netflix's series tackled the hard-hitting story of Pablo Escobar and the cartel, with Pedro landing the role of DEA agent Javier Peña. The show ran for three seasons and was considered one of the best adaptations of the complicated story - as well as one of Netflix's greatest running shows to date.
And the roles just kept on pouring in. After meeting director Patty Jenkins, with whom he had worked with years before, he was offered the coveted role of Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984. His career was truly at his peak, and anyone who was anyone knew who Pedro Pascal was.
In 2019, Pedro scored the role of the titular character, Din Djarin, in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. The space western television series gained such a cult following that it was picked up for a second season and currently has a third season airing. But there was more where that came from.
The Big Screen
The Game of Thrones star was rocking television, and eventually, he made his way onto the big screen alongside some of the biggest actors in the game. The NYU Tisch School of the Arts alum starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the action comedy film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
With Nicolas Cage playing himself, the actor finds himself between CIA agent Tiffany Haddish and superfan Pedro Pascal - and things get interesting. The film once again showed Pedro's range and ability to completely shapeshift based on his role. Was there anything he couldn't do?
The Last of Us
Movie or television adaptations of video games can be a true hit or miss. With such a large pre-existing fan base, the pressure is on when it comes down to these adaptations - and The Last of Us was no different. Already a wildly successful video game, the show had a whole lot riding on the line.
So when the adaptation was announced, people were both eager to jump on and simultaneously hesitant. However, this was different because award-winning screenwriter Craig Mazin was attached. Fans were dying to know who was going to star as their favorite characters - and Pedro instantly took the reigns.
Pedro was cast as the show's main character, Joel Miller. But at first, there was some confusion, he admitted during a cameo on The Tonight Show. Pedro told Jimmy Fallon that he was in London when he got a call from Mazin asking him to wait up while he talked to the video game producer. And, of course, he said he would.
However, one sleeping pill later, he fell asleep. Waking up nervously the next day, he said to himself, "I really want that job," Luckily, he got it! He looked at his phone and saw tons of congratulatory texts but forgot at what point he had accepted the role! Regardless, it was a dream come true.
The Reviews Are In
Upon its release earlier this year, the HBO drama was an instant hit with viewers and the network alike. Loyal fans of the video game had raving reviews over the series adaptation - praising both Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey, who played Ellie.
"As a performer, Pedro Pascal breathes new life into known quantities. So, too, does the show," a critic for The Ringer praised. As for season 2? Don't worry, HBO has already provided some good news... "We have the absolute pleasure of being able to do it again with season 2!" game creator Neil Druckmann shared - confirming more adventures to come.
The actor had big dreams of being a part of the HBO family one day, and he did it in ways he could never have even imagined. So even though the star has been in the business for years and years, at 47 years old, he has suddenly reached his peak (according to Google Trends).
And now that he is on top, Pedro has developed quite a loving fanbase. Audiences online are obsessed with the actor's charismatic persona that we see both onscreen and offscreen. So, of course, users did their thing and claimed Pedro Pascal as "the internet's daddy."
The Internet's Daddy
So, what exactly does this honorable title entail, and how did it come about? Well, fans are obsessed with Pedro's relatable, lovable, masculinity meets vulnerability persona - and so they've labeled him as "daddy." The actor first came across his new title last year during a Vanity Fair lie detector test, and the clip went viral.
Vanity Fair asked him a variety of questions, to which he said, "daddy is a state of mind, you know what I'm saying?" he joked. "I'm your daddy." And that's how he turned into the Internet's daddy. Even a journalist for ET asked the actor, "How're you doing, daddy?"
Pushed Too Far
But as much as the actor's embracing being the internet's daddy and going along with the whole bit, he recently had enough. In a recent interview with Access Hollywood on the red carpet for Disney's The Mandalorian, a reporter asked him to read a list of thirsty tweets to the camera.
The actor read over them and passed before he shook his head very politely and said, "no." In the most Pedro fashion, he joked, "dirty, dirty!" after telling the journalist, "thank you very much, they were very good." The clip has now gone viral, with people claiming how inappropriate the situation was and how the bit has run its course.
Unfortunately, the joke had gone too far. But it definitely has always begged the question: Is Pedro Pascal single, or is he taken? And luckily for his fans, he's currently single. The Narcos actor has been linked to a few women in the past, but there is no ring on that finger (yet).
But who has he dated? In the '90s, he was publicly dating fellow actor Maria Dizzia, known for her roles in 13 Reasons Why and Orange is the New Black. In 2014, Pascal was rumored to date Lena Headey, a fellow Game of Thrones star. However, Pascal has not been seen publicly dating anyone since then.
The 47-year-old heartthrob is living on top of the world, and with all this success, he's going from red carpet to red carpet, promoting all of his recent looks - and making a fashion statement while doing so. From his Saint Laurent overcoat at The Last of Us premiere to his green Dzojchen suit of Fallon - he is the moment.
He's playing with different color palettes and subtle statement pieces while embracing his "daddy" style - and he's killing it. He's even got runway stylist Julie Ragolia on board to help him get red carpet ready, and well according to the internet, they haven't disappointed.
"Peak Pedro Pascal"
So now that he has over two decades of acting under his belt, is on multiple hit TV series, and is known as the internet's daddy, Pedro Pascal is living large. But he's remained humble, which is probably one of his best qualities - even though he's millions richer than most of us...
As Forbes recently declared, it seems "we've hit peak Pedro Pascal." So now that he's at his peak, how much is his peak worth? Well, according to Celebrity Net Worth, The Mandalorian frontman is sitting on a cool $10 million in his bank account. Not too shabby, huh?
Coming Full Circle
So naturally, where does someone go at the peak of their career? Straight to New York City to Rockefeller Plaza's studio to host Saturday Night Live, of course. A few weeks ago, Pascal took center stage for a hilarious set, exercising a playful side we rarely get to see in his roles.
However, the most meaningful part of the evening was when the musical guest Coldplay dedicated their song, Fix You, to Pascal. "This one's for Pedro and Verónica," Chris Martin said. Martin originally wrote the song after his ex-wife, Gwyneth Paltrow's father passed away.
And well, we do understand why he's the most talked about star of the moment. Besides his incredible portrayal of his characters, he is warm, relatable, and humble. In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, the talk show host sang his praises listing off all his work, "Come on, man, I'm jealous!" he joked.
Pascal himself looked almost stunned by his accomplishments, joking with Fallon, "and that's the end," to which Fallon responded, "no way, it's just the beginning." And perhaps he's right: it is just the beginning for Pedro Pascal - and we can't wait to see where he goes next...