Meet the newest cast member of Game of Thrones: Pedro Pascal. The Chilean actor, a self-proclaimed GOT fanboy, will be playing Oberyn Martell, better known as Red Viper. To fans who haven't read George R.R. Martin's novels, Martell is a fearless, reckless, but never sex-less, Dornish prince who’s out for blood—lots of it.
Like his character, when he isn’t seeking revenge, Pascal is a charmer. Exhibit A: He sheepishly apologizes for cursing during our interview. But that's not all we learned about the actor. Pascal talks about his immense love for sci-fi, his journey to play bad boy Oberyn Martell, and his own bad boy ways—like his first run-in with the law, at age four.
Interview by Debbie Encalada (@DebbieOE)
How did you land the role of Oberyn Martell?
I was asked to put myself on tape and send it in to my agent, who then sent it to the series' casting directors. I taped myself with my iPhone. I felt like it was long shot that I'd get it, so initially I was just upset because the scenes I had to read were so full of spoilers. The fourth season was basically ruined for me. [Laughs.]
[Red Viper] is a character that plays by his own rules and comes into the land of Game of Thrones not really fearing any of the people that are most typically feared.
David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the creators of the show, got in touch me and I auditioned again. Then I was sent to Belfast, where I thought I had to go to convince them one last time that I was right for it, but when I arrived they just gave me a hug and said, "Congratulations. We’re so glad you’re here."
What was your first day like?
I was really nervous. The crew and the actors—particularly my first day was with Peter Dinklage—were so welcoming. Peter treated me with a tremendous amount of generosity and respect.
What kind of training did you have to do for your role?
The producers set me up with a trainer here in LA after I met them in Belfast. He was a master of Wushu, which is an acrobatic martial arts. Master Hu was a guy who actually worked alongside Jet Li, and taught me how to move my body in ways that I never could do before. [Laughs.]
Did you injure yourself while training?
I hit myself with the spear. The only injuries ever caused were caused by my self. My knees were bruised up. I kept on whacking myself with the bandaged stick that I was practicing with. I was my own worst enemy.
What can Game of Thrones fans who aren’t familiar with the books expect from Red Viper?
He’s a character that plays by his own rules and comes into the land of Game of Thrones not really fearing any of the people that are most typically feared. He functions strictly on his passions. He’s sort of the wild card. You just don’t know what to expect of him because he’s really capable of anything because he doesn’t give a shit what the consequences are.
Characters on Game of Thrones are really well-known for their nicknames, both serious and comical, like Little Finger. Red Viper is pretty awesome.
I do have the most badass name, don’t I? It’s almost better than Kingslayer. Nevermind,it is!
What would be your nickname in real life?
[Laughs.] Pale Latino. How about that?
How do you think being killed off Graceland has prepared you to die at any given moment on Game of Thrones?
The only thing that being killed off on Graceland helped me with on Game of Thrones is that it made me available to actually do the job. [Laughs.]
Are you one of those people that dwells on when their character is getting killed off? Or are you just ready to die?
You can never be too prepared for anything. You don’t want to know what’s in store because of the way it may affect how you play the character.
What books/shows/movies do you geek out about? I saw you were a True Detective fan.
I am such a True Detective fan. I was anticipating it each Sunday as it came. I’m kind of a sci-fi fan. I was really hooked on the Battlestar Galactica series. I think I owned every box set of Battlestar Galactica.I also really love Bob’s Burgers.[Laughs.]
Who are your predictions for the next True Detective stars?
I’d like to see female leads in the next season. I saw Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand coupled together [on the Internet], which would blow my mind. Or maybe Angela Bassett and Taraji P. Henson. I trust that whatever HBO does is gonna be fantastic.
I saw one of your tweets where you talked about being arrested at a really young age. What happened?
Oh god. My family is Chilean and I was born there. By the time I was four, we were living in San Antonio, Texas and I just remember picking a Blue Bonnet and getting yelled at by some guy with a sheriff hat and a badge. I was traumatized. He told me it was the state flower and I wasn’t supposed to be messin’ with it. That’s basically it. I was four years old and I can barely remember it.
What can we expect for season four?
You can expect a lot of surprises. There was such a crazy end to the third season, but there are so many other things that've been building through the series that are coming to fruition in the fourth season. But as soon as all the fans think they have the show figured out, trust that the writers are smart enough to surprise you.