Pedro Pascal’s star is on the rise. The internet’s favorite actor managed to revitalize the flagging Star Wars franchise, broke our hearts in The Last of Us, and it looks like he’s set to play the fantastic Reed Richards in the MCU. Still, to us, he’ll always be Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones.
The most suave and wily prince to ever visit King’s Landing, the Red Viper of Dorne became a Game of Thrones fan favorite (that’s why Oberyn is on our list of the best Game of Thrones characters), and it’s hard to imagine the fantasy series without him. Still, it turns out Pascal has more in common with Oberyn than just a face; they’re both incredibly crafty when they need to be.
Don’t take our word for it, though; the underhanded story of how he joined the Game of Thrones cast comes straight from Pascal himself. During an interview with Seth Meyers, Pascal admitted that he first heard about the Oberyn Martell audition while mentoring a student at USC. The student wanted Pascal’s help making an audition tape but while filming Pedro realized the role was perfect for him.
“I was a mentor to a graduate of USC. An actor… His first audition on tape, he wants my help with, and it’s like seventeen pages of a new role for Game of Thrones,” Pascal explained. “He’s like a twenty-five-year-old kid, really, really talented, good-looking… He’d never seen the show – I was a huge fan.”
As Pascal read the description of Oberyn in the script, he decided he was going to audition for the role, and when his student left, he called his agent and made his own audition tape. It’s a pretty devious strategy, and Pascal himself admits it was a “terrible” thing to do, but the story doesn’t end there.
Just like the Red Viper using poison to give him the upper hand against his enemies, Pascal knew he had to use every weapon at his disposal to secure the role. So what did he do? He turned to his old friend and advocate Sarah Paulson, who just so happened to be friends with the wife of Thrones showrunner David Benioff.
“‘Look, I’ve just put myself on tape for this amazing part,'” Pascal supposedly told Paulson. “‘I don’t think anyone’s going to see it. Maybe you…’ She didn’t even let me finish. She said, ‘You send me that tape right now!'”
Before long, Benioff had watched the tape and called Pascal in for an audition. The rest, as they say, is history. While this may sound like a tale of nepotism, it’s worth remembering that even with his connections, all that actually got Pascal was an audition. It was his acting that won him the role, and it was clear to everyone who watched his performance that Pascal was something special.
Now, we could point to his numerous award nominations and litany of credits as proof of Pascal’s acting chops, but we don’t need to. All we need to do is remind you of his battle against The Mountain, which is one of the best scenes in all of Thrones, in large part due to Pascal’s rage-filled performance. It’s cathartic, it’s tragic, it was Thrones at its best. Can you imagine anyone else in the role? We can’t.
If you love Westeros, you’re in the right place. We’re practically maesters when it comes to the history of the Seven Kingdoms, so why not check out our list of the best House of Dragon characters or our complete history of the Targaryen family tree from Aegon the Conqueror all the way to Daenerys Targaryen?