Few fatherless men are comfortable calling themselves “dad”, and among those who are okay with it, most should agree. And then there’s Pedro Pascal – the actor who assumed he was the “daddy of the internet” so comfortably that he looked down a reporter’s camera lens at The Last of Us premiere earlier this month and said “It’s I’m your cool, slutty daddy”. into the microphone, loud and clear.
If you didn’t know Pascal beforehand, this particular kind of confidence might seem self-aggrandizing, as if he graduated from the Matty Healy and John Mayer school of forced charisma. However, Pascal’s charisma is the real deal and, unfortunately for us hungry citizens, he has the crowds.
The Chilean-born actor, 47, has been popular among a select group of die-hard fans for years. They might have been cast as tough-talking, pants-wearing DEA agent Javier Peña in Narcos, one of Netflix’s first “Originals” back in 2015. Or as Oberyn Martell, who was smooth-talking and robe-wearing, who had a short, depressing run in HBO’s Game of Thrones – but gave enough of a performance to stick in people’s minds. Others have been calling Pascal’s dad since the day he donned his beskar helmet as The Mandalorian, which has become one of the most successful Star Wars projections since, well, the prequels.
For many, however, Pascal’s calculation is happening right here, right now. For the past three weeks, he has been gracing our screens in his newest role as Joel Miller. This is another reluctant father and the protagonist of the apocalyptic thriller series, The Last Of Us, an adaptation of the popular video game of the same name.
As soon as the series launched, Pascal got everyone talking about it. He has received rave reviews for his performance as Miller, drawing in more viewers who are putting up with his struggles and behind-the-scenes interviews. Arguably he’s always been this ugly and people are enjoying him in a role where his face isn’t covered for 95 percent of the runtime — but this feels different.
Take a look at your Twitter or Instagram and you’ll soon come across some kind of Pascal. Earlier this week a picture of him sitting with Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus alum and guest star of The Last Of Us episode three, sent netizens’ heads spinning. Plus, it got hundreds of thousands of likes – and exactly the kind of snarky comments you’d expect in the comments section below.
Two of his previous interviews have resurfaced and are becoming viral sensations for the first time, including a clip in which he evaluates who is the “greatest dad” from him and co-star Oscar Isaac (who the two are close friends). He was also recently announced as the next host of SNL, in an episode that aired on February 4. Basically, we are in a complete state of Pedromania.
It wasn’t always this way. Pascal may have been among the most popular television shows since the beginning of his career, but he was rarely given the opportunity to stick with it. He started out clean shaven and baby-faced in one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer way back in 1999, when he was still acting under the name Pedro Balmaceda. Later that year, his mother Verónica Pascal died by suicide, so he took her name as a tribute, but also because Americans often had difficulties pronouncing Balmaceda. After a few more network television stints with one-episode runs, Pascal then landed six episodes of The Good Wife. He played, in his own words, an “abusive lawyer” who goes toe-to-toe with Julianna Margulies.
His next stint was in The Mentalist, where Pascal was cast as a rival love interest who threatens the relationship of the two leads, played by Simon Baker and Robin Tunney. Don’t forget his words, Pascal said about the role: “I was there as the sad love interest”. He also said that the writers “[brought] someone in so people would start freaking out that both [leads] maybe they wouldn’t get together”.
In between these roles, Pascal did duty on other American crime series such as CSI and Law & Order. It wasn’t until Game of Thrones, however, that it became known, given the scale of the fantasy series. He often credits the role as changing his life, telling Entertainment Weekly in 2022: “Game of Thrones was really this incredible, amazing experience to play this beautiful, beautifully written iconic character who he is very interested in one, very strong season of the series. All I can really say is that I had the time of my life and I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for that role.”
It opened doors and began landing leading character roles in TV series such as Narcos and big budget films including Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. But his biggest break came when he was chosen to play Din Djarin in The Mandalorian, an opportunity that would become the role of a lifetime.
However, playing Mando came with its own risks. The essence of the character is to keep his face hidden under his helmet with almost religious devotion. This means you have to sacrifice valuable screen time, but also portray a character with no recognizable facial expression. Few actors could manage it as quickly as Pascal, who admits it was due to his theater experience. “I’m not even sure I would have been able to do it if it wasn’t for the amount of experience I’ve had just being on stage,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2020, “to understand how to pose. how to physically mold yourself into something and tell a story with a very specific gesture, position, or tone of voice.”
Despite playing a faceless character, Pascal somehow managed to win over audiences around the world. His simmering popularity only increased as The Mandalorian progressed from season one to season two. Now that he has taken up the mantle as Joel in The Last Of Us, Pascal’s likeness has almost disappeared.
It has as much to do with his personality as it does his acting chops. Pascal is energetic, engaging in interviews and always flirting healthy whenever possible. He’s not too shy and will happily go down when he feels it’s right (a guy once compared him to “Orlando Bloom if he was hit with a shovel”, and he happily agreed with the comparison happy.) He is vocally left-wing and supportive of LGBTQ+ rights, particularly regarding his sister Lux, who is a transgender actress and activist. For a long time, he was interactive with fans, offering funny answers to thirst quotes on his Twitter – although he has since (core) deleted his Twitter.
He maintains a certain mystery, however, by keeping his private life very much under wraps. His only official relationship is with Law & Order actress Maria Dizzia, although he has previously been linked to co-stars Robin Tunney and Lena Headey (though he consistently calls them his “good friends” when are asked, so we might not know the truth. ).
This may have something to do with his current status as everyone’s resident bone of contention, since he hasn’t closed the door on that precious wish fulfillment: is he gay, is he straight, could he be somewhere in between? Is he single, is he married, is he secretly married to some mid-level producer that he never takes to the red carpet? Without the answers, everything is possible.
Ultimately, it’s not that hard to understand how Pascal has come to dominate the world: he’s a good actor, he’s attractive and he has a show that airs on HBO’s prime slot.
But there is one additional layer that their peers (Jacob Elordi, Jeremy Strong and Theo James) have not yet achieved, and perhaps never will: there are plenty of good actors. There are plenty of attractive actors. There are plenty of actors who have charisma — but not as much as Pascal. The man has that old-fashioned good manners, and we’re totally rooting for him.