Pedro Pascal Red Carpet
John Salangsang via Shutterstock

Looking Back at Pedro Pascal’s Journey to Hollywood


| LAST UPDATE 03/20/2023

By Scarlett Adler

After making his debut in the '90s, it wasn't until his famous role in Game of Thrones that Pascal was truly gaining traction in the industry. Fans can't get enough and keep coming back for more…

Man of the Moment

Mr. Pascal has become Hollywood's most talked-about actor, and with good reason! He's always got another trick up his sleeve. But despite now being one of the most famous faces in show business, it took Pedro 47 years to get to where he is!

Pedro Pascal Red CarpetPedro Pascal Red Carpet
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP via Shutterstock

He got his start in television series like The Mentalist and starred in lesser-known productions. It wasn't until his performance in HBO's Game of Thrones that we saw the potential of this star on the rise! We can only wonder what else he has up his sleeve now that he's firmly established as one of the greats. Let's take a look back, shall we?

His Childhood

Born Pedro Balmaceda to two successful Chilean professionals. His upbringing was marked both by close loving family ties and an air of political unrest in the country. His father was a doctor, and his mother worked as a child psychologist. He grew up with three siblings in Santiago, Chile.

Pedro Pascal Mother FamilyPedro Pascal Mother Family
Instagram via @pascalispunk

Outside forces weighed heavily on them. Pascal had been born just 2 years after dictator Augusto Pinochet had overthrown Salvador Allende's government in 1973 – leaving many Chilean families uncertain. Pascal's mother primarily focused on creating a safe environment ensuring her children could still thrive during these times.

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Making Enemies

Pedro's world changed overnight when General Pinochet overthrew the Allende government in 1973. His parents were quickly labeled enemies of the regime, leaving them with only limited freedom to maneuver. It was a matter of life or death, as Pascal's family became part of the resistance.

Pedro Pascal Chile ChildhoodPedro Pascal Chile Childhood
Instagram via @pascalispunk

Constantly watched by Pinochet's forces, they were forced to think on their feet as Pedro was just a few months old. Fortunately, Pedro's family managed to escape with their lives - but Verónica will forever remember the fear and uncertainty that came with being an unexpected enemy of the regime.

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The Escape Plan

Pedro's father had little regard for his own safety when it came to helping people in need. On one fateful occasion, he helped a wounded dissident escape to freedom, though his brave act would come at a heavy price. "They went looking for my father at the hospital he worked at," Pedro recollected to The Rake magazine.

Pedro Pascal Throwback InstagramPedro Pascal Throwback Instagram
Instagram via @pascalispunk

Realizing they were downstairs, searching for him, Dr. Jose Balmaceda had no choice but to hastily pack up and leave with his family. With only a single path of escape available, Dr. Balmaceda and his family spent the next six months on the run in search of refuge abroad, eventually passing through Denmark and landing in the United States.

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Clean Slate

A new beginning was in store for Pedro and his family when they escaped the oppressive regime of Chile and arrived in San Antonio, Texas. At only one year old, Pedro had his whole life ahead of him. His love of swimming, watching the Spurs, and an interest in films fostered by his father all contributed to his eventual path.

Pedro Pascal Childhood RefugeePedro Pascal Childhood Refugee
Instagram via @pascalispunk

After graduating high school, he made the big move to New York City to pursue his passion at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. As he told Paula magazine years after graduation, "My mom and my driver's license saved me." With courage, ambition, and support from family members, Pedro's new beginning would become something remarkable.

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Boy With a Dream

Growing up in Chile, Pedro never could have imagined that he would be living his wildest dream one day - becoming a successful actor. After attending NYU, he was determined to make this ambition a reality. He had high hopes of one day making it onto a poster like one of his heroes, Christian Bale, who starred in Empire of the Sun.

Pedro Pascal Degree Bio Pedro Pascal Degree Bio
Instagram via @pascalispunk

Soon enough, all his hard work would pay off - and he had his family to thank for it all. He often recounted the events, saying, "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." 

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His First Role

Pedro Balmaceda was determined to make his mark in showbiz, and he knew the only way to do it was by putting in the hard work. After graduating from NYU, he began his on-screen debut with small roles in hit television shows of the day like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, MTV's Undressed, Good vs. Evil, and Nurse Jackie.

Buffy Cast Pedro PascalBuffy Cast Pedro Pascal
IMDb-Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) via USA

It seemed as though everyone already recognized his name, too; as expected he went by his birth name for all of these early performances. However, shortly after this, Pedro endured one of the toughest events of his life, which would later shape both him personally and professionally for years to come.

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A Painful Loss

In 1999, Pedro's world was completely shattered. He received the horrible news that his beloved mother had tragically ended her life. The sudden loss was a harsh wake-up call for the young actor. "She was the love of my life. I think about her every day," he shared.

Pedro Pascal Family TragedyPedro Pascal Family Tragedy
Instagram via @pascalispunk

“I live for her even though she’s gone. 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 never the same again.

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Switching Views

Pedro knew what he had to do - he had to slow down. He began to pick up hobbies that were entirely new to him. He dedicated himself to them and told himself they would help him grow. Soon enough, he was meditating in his spare time. A complete 180.

Pedro Pascal Career InterviewPedro Pascal Career Interview
Instagram via @pascalispunk

He found a better balance between work and relaxation and formed more meaningful relationships with friends and family. His career eventually started back up due to the benefits of slowing down that Pedro discovered. As the saying goes, "sometimes the biggest step forward is in slowing down."

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The Name Change

Pedro was struggling to find a sense of identity when he considered his career and honoring his mother at the same time. He decided that changing his last name from Balmaceda to Pascal was the best move. It wasn't simply a show of love for his mother but also recognition that "Americans had a hard time pronouncing Balmaceda."

Pedro Pascal Name ChangePedro Pascal Name Change
Instagram via @pascalispunk

Plus, 'Pascal' was an easier name to work with. With his new last name, there were expectations placed on him - some earned, some unearned - but Pedro wanted to take advantage of the opportunity by challenging those preconceived notions. As he expressed, he was looking to escape "that box" so he could work without restrictions.

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Remembering His Roots

Pedro found himself tracing his roots to answer such questioning. He was of Chilean descent, with Spanish ancestry. Intrigued by the complexity of it all, he discovered that, to the public eye, he showed mostly European features due to the mix of different cultures and ancestries within South America.

Pedro Pascal Ethnicity LatinoPedro Pascal Ethnicity Latino
Instagram via @pascalispunk

As a result, questions like "why are you so white, but your name is Pedro?" became quite common during some of his early auditions as an actor. Yet, knowing who he was and where he came from gave him comfort, with his grandfather being Basque and grandmother from Mallorca. Though, not everyone accepted his diverse roots right away.

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Landing More Roles

After a difficult time in his professional life, Pedro was looking for his big break. He secured several roles in crime dramas of the early 2000s. He had roles on well-known shows like The Good Wife and The Mentalist. He also appeared on dramas, Without a Trace, CSI, and Law & Order.

Pedro Pascal Role Good WifePedro Pascal Role Good Wife
IMDb-The Good Wife (2009) via CBS

It was during this period of time that he was approached by his old friend Sarah Paulson. They had met while both studying at NYU. Paulson would ultimately provide him with the most significant opportunity of his life and career, changing the course of his life as he knew it.

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Thanks, Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson was already an accomplished actress when 2013 rolled around, but that year changed things in a big way. She heard of a role being cast for the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. She had connected Pedro with the GOT showrunner David Benioff, and his iPhone selfie audition tape made it into Benioff's hands.

Pedro Pascal Sarah PaulsonPedro Pascal Sarah Paulson
Instagram via @pascalispunk

This "very amateurish" method allowed Pedro to shine in front of Benioff, who went on to call the performance "intense and believable and just right" - and perhaps it wouldn't have been possible without the help of Paulson introducing him to the world.

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The Role That Changed Everything

He knew this could be his big break, so when he decided to shoot his audition tape on an old iPhone, Pedro Pascal made sure to bring the house down! Even though some may have deemed it "amateurish," that tape successfully landed him the role of a lifetime: The Red Viper.

Pedro Pascal Game Of ThronesPedro Pascal Game Of Thrones
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP via Shutterstock

Game of Thrones was already at its peak of success in season 4, but Pascal and Indira Varma's electric chemistry certainly gave it an added boost. Whether it was 7 episodes or just 1, Pedro Pascal left his mark as Oberyn Martell, making us all bow down to Westeros and beyond!

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Winter is Coming

His time on Game of Thrones was incomparable to other shows. According to Pascal himself, "It was a dream… at the height of the show's popularity, a perfectly written season, a perfectly written role". His experience with the show was an exciting one, and he joked that "nobody got a chance to be sick of" him.

Lena Headey Pedro Pascal GOTLena Headey Pedro Pascal GOT
IMDb-Game of Thrones (2011) via HBO

His natural charisma and already existing connections were two elements that helped him land this role. Though only present for a few episodes, his appearance definitely left an impact and spurred him to forge lasting connections with HBO. It's clear that he welcomed this opportunity - one he had always dreamed of having!

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Gaining Traction

Pedro Pascal was well on his way to Hollywood stardom. David Benioff was also very aware of this and gave a nod to the actor, saying, “Once we saw the entire season, there was no doubt Pedro was going to be a star. I thought he deserved more recognition, frankly.”

Pedro Pascal Oberyn Martell GOTPedro Pascal Oberyn Martell GOT
IMDb - Game of Thrones (2011) via HBO

One thing was for certain - Pascal was indeed becoming a Hollywood icon, and his newfound fame would only lead him further up the ladder of success presented by the world of entertainment. Fans were absolutely ecstatic about it, too; giving him all the love he needed in order to get ready for his next amazing role.

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Narcos & More

Pedro Pascal hit the jackpot when he got his role in Narcos. After impressing fans as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, he was inundated with offers, and Narcos was at the top of them all. It took some careful consideration from Pascal before he accepted the offer.

Pedro Pascal Narcos NetflixPedro Pascal Narcos Netflix
IMDb - Narcos (2015) via Netflix

He eventually took on the challenge to portray Javier Pena for Netflix's adaptation of Pablo Escobar and the cartel. Critics hailed it as one the most well-done adaptations of this difficult story and Netflix's greatest running shows so far - leading many to quote Pedro from his memorable performance.

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Star Wars

Pedro Pascal's career skyrocketed in 2019 when he was offered the highly coveted role of Din Djarin, a bounty hunter from the Star Wars spin-off show, The Mandalorian. His performance as the gruff and mysterious Mandalorian was so captivating and dynamic that it quickly gained a large cult-like following.

Mandalorian Star Wars PascalMandalorian Star Wars Pascal
Lucasfilm/Disney/Kobal via Shutterstock

The show's immense success led to Disney+ ordering second and third seasons. Pascal also achieved major success playing Maxwell Lord in Patty Jenkins' blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 - further cementing himself as one of Hollywood's leading stars. Pedro Pascal is here to stay!

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Movie Moments

Pedro Pascal was really making waves on television, and it was only a matter of time before he took Hollywood by storm. He finally made his film debut alongside the incomparable Nicolas Cage in the action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

Pedro Pascal Nicolas Cage Movie Pedro Pascal Nicolas Cage Movie
Lionsgate/Moviestore via Shutterstock

It ended up being an absolutely wild ride thanks to Tiffany Haddish and Pedro's characters playing off each other perfectly. His intense transformation into this offbeat yet still lovable character brought a feeling of awe. Every moviegoer watching started asking themselves the same question: is there anything this guy can't do?

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The Last of Us

The Last of Us had a lot riding on it when the announcement was made for its television adaptation. Fans were eager to see who was cast to bring their favorite characters to life, and with award-winning screenwriter Craig Mazin attached to the project expectations were high.

Last of Us Cast PascalLast of Us Cast Pascal
MediaPunch via Shutterstock

Pedro Pascal settled anxious minds by announcing that he would be playing Joel - something fans celebrated with excitement. Having adapted an iconic video game into a beautifully creative television series, Craig Mazin and Pedro Pascal proved that with the right team, even the most daunting adaptations can turn out amazing.

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Becoming Joel

Pedro was cast as the show's main character, Joel Miller. He admitted to Jimmy Fallon he was initially confused when he got the call from creator Craig Mazin asking him to wait up while he spoke to the video game producer. Pedro agreed, and then took a sleeping pill and ended up snoozing through everything!

Last Of Us Joel BellaLast Of Us Joel Bella
IMDb-The Last of Us (2023) via HBO

Waking up in dismay, all he could think was, "I really want that job" – and fortunately for him, luck was on his side. When looking at his phone the next day, there were congratulatory messages all across his feed! Regardless of how it actually happened, Pedro felt nothing but gratefulness that it had all worked out.

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Critics Chime In

Reviews have been extremely positive for HBO's adaptation of the popular video game. Fans have been noting the fantastic performances of both Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, respectively. Critics also had glowing praise for the series.

Pedro Pascal Bella Ramsey HBOPedro Pascal Bella Ramsey HBO
John Salangsang via Shutterstock

An article from The Ringer says, "As a performer, Pedro Pascal breathes new life into known quantities. So, too, does the show." There is even better news for loyal fans - in an exciting announcement from game creator Neil Druckmann that read, "We have the absolute pleasure of being able to do it again with season 2!"

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The Online Daddy

Pedro Pascal became an overnight sensation. And we couldn't be prouder! Although he had been in the industry since his modeling days in the mid-90s, it wasn't until later in his career that people finally took notice. But his journey is far from over.

Pedro Pascal Red CarpetPedro Pascal Red Carpet
John Salangsang via Shutterstock

Google Trends reported a sharp increase in search queries regarding his name as of 2020 - with him trending consistently all over social media. Audiences absolutely love Pascal's infectious charm both onscreen and offscreen - so much so that people have crowned him as 'the internet's daddy'!

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Lie Detector

Pedro Pascal has been graced with the title of 'the Internet's Daddy.' The term encapsulates how fans around the world find Pedro's persona - a blend of masculinity and vulnerability - to be endearingly relatable. It all started last year when he appeared in a humorous but candid Vanity Fair lie detector test that went viral.

Pedro Pascal daddy interview Pedro Pascal daddy interview
Luca Carlino/NurPhoto via Shutterstock

His response to a variety of questions was, "Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I'm saying? I'm your daddy." This clinched his newfound identity as the Internet's daddy. His fame was evident when an ET journalist event greeted him with, "How're you doing, daddy?" Pascal seems comfortable embracing his new role.

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No Comment

Pedro Pascal is one of the internet's darlings, adored by thousands who watch The Mandalorian with bated breath. For a while, he played up to all the memes and jokes created in his likeness, but it seems he's recently been pushed too far. A reporter on the red carpet presented him with a list of thirsty tweets to read out loud.

Access Hollywood Pedro PascalAccess Hollywood Pedro Pascal
YouTube via Access Hollywood

Pedro simply said, "No." He politely refused while still making a joke out of it - showing that not even the nicest celebrity can be taken advantage of indefinitely. In the most Pascal fashion, he added, "dirty, dirty!" after teasing the reporter, "thank you very much, they were very good."

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Hollywood Bachelor

Pedro Pascal has been the topic of living room jokes for a while, with everyone asking - "Is he single?" Well, luckily for the eligible bachelor's fans, the answer is yes! Although he's been linked to a couple of women in the past - the 90s saw him dating Maria Dizzia, and there was a rumor about a certain co-star.

Lena Headey Pedro Pascal DatingLena Headey Pedro Pascal Dating
Instagram via @iamlenaheadey

Back in 2014, it was rumored that he was dating his Game of Thrones co-star Lena Headey. However, lately, there hasn't been any sighting of him with someone special. So, if you want to vie for this heartthrob's attention, now is your chance! Better get on it soon because we have a feeling he'll be swept away.

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Fashion Icon

In addition to acting, Pascal is now leaving his mark on fashion. From classic tailoring to statement pieces, this heartthrob is taking red carpets by storm. At The Last of Us premiere, he wore a timeless Saint Laurent overcoat, while on Fallon he donned a green Dzojchen suit that oozed 'daddy style'.

Pedro Pascal Mandalorian CharacterPedro Pascal Mandalorian Character
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP via Shutterstock

With the help of runway stylist Julie Ragolia, who has been behind some of his most iconic looks, the duo has churned out one winner after another with their undeniable knack for modern sophistication. It's no surprise then that they have taken the internet by storm with their immense charm and effortless style.

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"Peak Pedro"

It's been an incredible rise for Pedro Pascal, who has come a long way since his early theatre roles and has quickly become one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood. Now, according to Forbes, it seems that we have officially "hit peak Pedro Pascal."

Pedro Pascal Fashion EvolutionPedro Pascal Fashion Evolution
Instagram via @pascalispunk

The actor is currently sitting on a comfortable $10 million dollar in the bank. Not bad for a humble guy who has managed to keep both his feet firmly on the ground! Clearly, he's deserving of all the recognition coming his way - because it looks like peak Pedro Pascal is going to stay around for a while.

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Full Circle Moment

Coming full circle from his humble beginnings, actor Pedro Pascal has achieved great success through his passionate performances and captivating presence. After numerous notable roles in Game of Thrones and Narcos, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, an impressive feat that marks a major milestone in Pascal's career.

Pedro Pascal SXSW PremierePedro Pascal SXSW Premiere
Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP via Shutterstock

During the show, Coldplay performed Fix You, and dedicated it to Pedro and his mom Verónica Falcón. The song was originally conceived by Chris Martin after the passing of Gwyneth Paltrow's father - making the dedication even more special. It was truly a memorable night.

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What Now?

Pascal has skyrocketed to fame, and we totally get why. His incredible screen presence speaks for itself, but he's also humble - which makes us root for him more! During an interview with Jimmy Fallon, not even he could contain his enthusiasm when listing all Pascal's achievements: "Come on, man, I'm jealous!" he joked.

Pedro Pascal Interview Jimmy FallonPedro Pascal Interview Jimmy Fallon
YouTube via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Pascal himself was almost taken aback at the list of accomplishments - and rightly so! But Fallon had the last word in the conversation: "No way that's it! It's just the beginning." And with such an impressive amount of work behind him already, we're excited to see where Pedro Pascal goes next - this is only the start of his story.

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