11 Pedro Pascal Facts (& The Poignant Reason He Changed His Name)

Everyone seems to love Pedro Pascal. Between his star turns in "Narcos," "The Mandalorian," and "The Last of Us," the actor has won the hearts of countless fans. The child of Chilean immigrants, Pascal grew up with a love for movies, as his parents thought movies were a great way to immerse the family in American culture. Pascal, who moved from the West Coast to New York City in 1993 to attend the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts, was not an overnight success. Despite his good looks and charming disposition, the actor toiled for years working in restaurants and taking small parts in a variety of TV shows and theater productions.

His big break came in 2014 with his eye-popping performance as Oberyn Martell in Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." From there, his career took off, and the roles he took on will likely go down in history as iconic. He's been nominated for MTV Movie and TV awards, a Teen Choice award, and a Screen Actors Guild award as part of the "Game of Thrones" ensemble cast. He even starred in Sia's "Fire Meet Gasoline" video with supermodel Heidi Klum. Pascal might say he doesn't think of himself as a heartthrob, but he'd be lying. Let's dig deeper into the life and career of everybody's favorite daddy, Pedro Pascal.

His family fled Chile when he was just a baby

Pedro Pascal's life started off on a dramatic note. When he was only nine months old, his family had to flee their native Chile to seek political asylum. "My mother's cousin was very primary in the opposition against the military regime, but there was a huge degree of separation between him and my parents. Still, helping some people hide got them into hot water." he explained to Time.

Despite the extreme circumstances that brought his family to the U.S., Pascal has said he feels lucky and privileged. He told Wired, "The reason my older sister and I grew up in the States is because my parents fled a military dictatorship. So, you know, only 10 years after my parents were in hiding, I was crying because 'The Breakfast Club' was checked out at the video store." He added that it wasn't until later in life that reckoned with the concept of home. "It can be emotionally challenging to accept that there isn't anywhere to plant my flag as an individual. Everywhere is home and nowhere is home. But that also still feels like a good thing to me," the actor said.

Pascal is clearly proud of his heritage, and in a promo for his debut hosting gig on "SNL" he opened with, "Little Pedro Pascal from Santiago, Chile, hosting 'Saturday Night Live.'"

He changed his name to honor his mother

Pedro Pascal went by a different name early on in his career. His acting roles in the late '90s and early '00s credit him as Pedro Balmaceda. So why the name change? The actor decided to begin going by his mother's maiden name of Pascal as a tribute to her after her passing. Pascal's mother died by suicide in 1999, before the actor really hit his stride. But he credits his mother for his eventual fame, telling People, "She was always incredibly supportive, never a stage mom. I always felt like she knew something that I didn't." He added, "None of [my success] would be real if it weren't for her."

There was another, practical reason for the actor's name change as well. "Americans had such a hard time pronouncing Balmaceda," he explained in an interview with Variety. "It was exhausting." Pascal even briefly tried changing his first name as well, going by Alexander Pascal for a brief period. "I was willing to do absolutely anything to work more," he said. "And that meant if people felt confused by who they were looking at in the casting room because his first name was Pedro, then I'll change that. It didn't work." We think the name Pedro Pascal has a wonderful ring to it.

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He hustled until his career took off

Although Pedro Pascal has many acting credits in TV, film, and theater, it took a while for him to achieve the level of success he currently enjoys. According to Pascal's BFF Oscar Isaac, the struggle was so real. "The dream was to be able to pay rent," Isaac told Variety. "There wasn't a strategy. We were just struggling. It was talking about how to do this thing that we both love but seems kind of insurmountable."

While trying to make it in New York City, Pascal worked as a waiter. During an interview-slash-lie detector test for Vanity Fair, Pascal admitted, "I would say I was not a good waiter." He went on to explain, "If I liked you, I liked you, and if I didn't, I didn't, and that didn't necessarily go well with having a bunch of customers." Those of us who've worked in the restaurant industry can relate!

The actor has not forgotten the friends and family who helped him stay afloat before his big break came. He told Wired, "I didn't get 'Game of Thrones' till I was in my late thirties. And therefore, the amount of times I was helped, and the amount of people that I could rely on through some really tough times—I'm never going to let some of them ever buy dinner again. I want to take care of people as much as they took care of me."

How he got cast on Game of Thrones

It is true that Pedro Pascal has gotten by with a little help from his friends. For example, he owes his iconic role as Oberyn Martell on "Game of Thrones" to his pal actor Sarah Paulson. Paulson was the one who passed along Pascal's audition tape to her BFF Amanda Peet, the wife of "GoT" showrunner David Benioff.

Despite the poor quality of the video itself, Pascal's audition blew Benioff away. "First of all, it was an iPhone selfie audition, which was unusual," Benioff told Variety. "And this wasn't one of the new-fangled iPhones with the fancy cameras. It looked like s**t; it was shot vertical; the whole thing was very amateurish. Except for the performance, which was intense and believable and just right."

Pascal's charming attitude of gratitude shone through once again as he recalled filming his "GoT" scenes in Belfast. "I was between Charles Dance and Lena Headey, with a view of the entire f***ing set," he said to Variety "I couldn't believe I didn't have an uncomfortable costume on. You know, I got to sit — and with this view."

Narcos became a potentially dangerous gig

Pedro Pascal starred as DEA agent Javier Peña on the Netflix series "Narcos" from 2015 to 2017. The show, a fictionalized account of the investigation into the late Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar was a hit with both audiences and critics. But Pablo Escobar's brother, Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, was not a fan.

In fact, he was quite vocal about his disapproval, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "I don't want Netflix or any other film production company to film any movies in Medellin or Colombia that relates to me or my brother Pablo without authorization from Escobar Inc. It is very dangerous. Especially without our blessing. This is my country."

His statement came on the heels of a tragic incident involving a location scout for "Narcos," Carlos Muñoz Portal. Portal was found murdered near Hidalgo, Mexico. Pascal seemed shaken when TMZ caught up with him to get his take on the tragedy. "We can't do [the show] if it's not safe," Pascal said. "We're talking about lives. If they want to do it, then they'll figure it out in a safe way." Pascal was not slated to return for the show's fourth season, although fans were hoping he might make an appearance. We can't blame him if he was, in fact, trying to play it safe.

He multitasked while on The Mandalorian

Pedro Pascal has come a long way from his days waiting tables and taking any acting role he could book. In fact, he found himself triple booked when he was cast in the titular role of the "Star Wars" series "The Mandalorian." Pascal had already committed to starring in the film "Wonder Woman 1984," as well as a Broadway production of "King Lear." But Pascal was determined to make it all work, even if it required a bit of multitasking. "When I knew he was going to be putting on the suit for this, I was like, 'Yes! I'm gonna look so cool!'" he shared with EW.

For his role in "The Mandalorian," Pascal donned an intricate costume that rendered him basically anonymous, save for his voice. For some scenes, while the actor was fulfilling his other commitments, stunt actors were actually in the Mandalorian suit, and Pascal dubbed him in voice later. "If there were more than just a couple of pages of a one-on-one scene, I did feel uneasy about not, in some instances, being able to totally author that," he told Variety. "But it was so easy in such a sort of practical and unexciting way for it to be up to them. When you're dealing with a franchise as large as this, you are such a passenger to however they're going to carve it out. It's just so specific. It's 'Star Wars.'"

His friendship with Oscar Isaac

Fans love Pedro Pascal — he's played some of their favorite characters, he seems so down to earth, and he's very endearing in interviews. And on top of all that, his friendship with fellow actor Oscar Isaac is super cute, and the duo is consistently charming.

"I met him through a play we did together in 2005. An off-Broadway show where we were getting $500 a week." Pascal told Wired. "He played a ghost ... I had to do my scenes, and he would physically be there, but because my character couldn't see him, he could f*** with me, all in front of live audiences, as much as he wanted, trying to get me to crack up or forget my lines. The memory is simultaneously dark and wonderful." The two have been best pals ever since.

"He's obsessed with me," Isaac joked to Esquire. "I try to get away from him, he finds me. Even when I change my number... it's like a disease." But in all seriousness, these two share important bonds, from struggling together as young actors to having similar backgrounds. "We're both children of Latin immigrants, so there's sort of a cultural familiarity, then at the same time we're both actors. We have the same dreams," Pascal told Esquire. "It's something very special because it can be a lonely journey when you're out there going after." We love to see it.

He is a vocal ally of the LGBTQ+ community

In 2021, Pedro Pascal's younger sister, Lux Pascal, came out publicly as transgender. In an Instagram post, Pedro shared a photo of Lux on the cover of Ya, a Chilean magazine, with the caption "Mi hermana, mi corazón, nuestra Lux." Translated from Spanish, it means, "My sister, my heart, our Lux." So sweet!

But Pedro Pascal is not only supportive of those close to him, he understands the importance of being an ally for the entire LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with Wired, the actor said, "My entire heart is set on, you know, the marginalized underdog. It's not a choice. Like, how dare anyone not support the people that are deserving of support, and are deserving of protection and need more of it than you do."

He went on to acknowledge that social media declarations of support are one thing, but he feels as though he could and should be doing more. "My personal hope is to seize the opportunity to be of service in ways that are true. I'm keeping my eyes open. The truth is that I don't think I do nearly enough," the actor said.

How he prepared for his role in The Last of Us

Pedro Pascal stars as Joel in HBO's "The Last of Us," based on the extremely popular video game of the same name. But is Pascal a gamer? "I hadn't heard of the game. Their instruction was: 'Don't play the game.' I ignored them. I tried to play the game, and I was very, very bad at it," he revealed to Wired.

Of course, preparing for a role begins with knowing you've secured said role. On "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Pascal shared that he'd met with the creators of the series and the video game during a late night Zoom call, then took an Ambien to help him sleep. "I get a call and I get told that I got the job after I took the Ambien. And so I was excited, I guess, but I didn't remember." The next morning Pascal woke up stressed because he wanted the role so badly, unaware until he checked his phone (which was flooded with congratulatory messages) that the job was already his!

And Pascal is excellent as Joel, perhaps because he brings aspects of himself to the role. "That was the way to understand Joel best was, you know, with my own heart," Pascal told Polygon. "I found him to be a very hardened person ... even before losing his daughter or the world ending before his very eyes. And that loss kind of calcifying and shaping who he is, and how he survives thereafter."

How he feels about being 'The Daddy of the Internet'

Pedro Pascal is kind of hot, right? It seems like the general consensus, with even the most mainstream media outlets casually referring to Pascal as "The Daddy of the Internet." In a clip from an interview with ET, Pascal was asked how he felt about having this title bestowed upon him and he replied, "Yup ... I am your cool slutty daddy." Okay, to be fair, Pascal was first shown a tweet that read, "I call Pedro Pascal a DILF and think he's my cool slutty father." Still, his response brought joy to many fans.

During a lie detector test for Vanity Fair, Pascal admitted, "Yes, I'm a heartthrob." He went on to reluctantly confess that he looks at fan accounts devoted to his hotness and they cheer him up when he's feeling down. He even has a favorite account! Pascal revealed all of this while laughing heartily, clearly chagrined. Honestly, it just made us love him even more.

Does he actually want to be a father?

Although fans consider Pedro Pascal to be a total daddy, the actor is not actually a father. Of course, he does play one on TV. In fact, he's said that his role in "The Mandalorian" made him consider having children of his own. The relationship between his character and Grogu, known to most as Baby Yoda, was inspirational for the actor. During an interview at the "Star Wars" Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center in 2022, Pascal said, "It's the closest I've ever come to being a dad — so far, anyway. To see a child love his father like that — I get it. Maybe I should have one." (via Socialite Life).

Pascal also plays a father who loses his young daughter in "The Last of Us" and gains something of a surrogate daughter in the character of Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey). When speaking to Wired about what his character, Joel, experiences in "The Last of Us," Pascal said, "The love you feel toward a particular relationship — your child, your partner — and to lose that? Some people are not capable of applying rational thought to that kind of loss." He went on to say, "I avoid all of it by not having kids. And staying out of relationships." When pressed, he admitted he does like to imagine what it might be like to have children. We think he'd be amazing at it, but maybe we're just used to referring to him as daddy.