Thursday, June 26, 2014

'Game of Thrones' star loves bisexual character

(June 9, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Oberyn Martell is a new “Game of Thrones” character but in just a few episodes, the Prince of Dorne, played by Pedro Pascal, has figured prominently in the HBO series. The bisexual warrior-prince has volunteered to fight for the life of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), wrongfully accused by his kin, the ruling Lannisters, of a crime he did not commit.

“Oberyn has positioned himself as Tyrion’s champion for the trial by combat and will finally face a man he’s been wanting to confront since the death of Oberyn’s sister,” Pascal said in a recent teleconference, sans the thick Chilean accent he uses for the character. “Fans of the (George RR Martin) books who are fans of the show have never been dissatisfied with any of the major events and, I can assure you, they are not going to be dissatisfied with this one, either.”

The eighth episode, which aired last night, featured the momentous confrontation between Oberyn, also known as The Red Viper, and the brutal executioner monikered The Mountain (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson).

Bjornsson, Pascal said, is a towering, 6’9” strongman who weighs 420 lbs. “Physically, it was very intimidating,” said Pascal, who stands 5’11”. “But he’s a very kind person and we get along beautifully.”

Born Jose Pedro Balmaceda Pascal, the Chilean-American actor previously played roles in “Homeland,” “Nikita,” “CSI,” “The Good Wife,” “Touched By an Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He was also in the 2011 fantasy-drama film “The Adjustment Bureau.”

He went through difficult times as a young, struggling actor, Pascal, now 39, said. “I studied Theater in New York University. When I graduated, I started auditioning right away. I had these cliché experiences, waiting tables, getting fired from different restaurants, making ends meet. My earlier work was in New York theater. I managed to make a home for myself there; it’s probably the best training ground.”

Pascal disclosed that he read for the “Game of Thrones” part in Los Angeles. “I was a fan of the show before I got the audition, and I was in the middle of watching the third season. In the script that I read, a lot was revealed…initially, I was actually upset. My first concern was that the fourth season was spoiled for me, and I might not even get the part. It didn’t turn out that way, much to my incredible surprise!”

He is thankful that his audition video was singled out by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss. “Next thing I knew, they were flying me to Belfast to meet them, and there they told me that I got the part,” he enthused. “To say that I was happy is an understatement—I was over the moon!”

A fan of Dinklage’s for many years, Pascal described working with his costar as “an incredible honor.” He also thinks Tyrion should be king, ultimately. “He is the smartest person in every room he is in. Alongside that, contrary to the previous rulers, he has empathy and experience.”

As for Oberyn, Pascal said the Chilean accent was partly influenced by his father, and that the actor immediately admired Oberyn’s fuss-free personality. “I think he’s brilliant, because of how liberated and free-spirited he is,” Pascal said. “This character refuses to limit himself with regards to experience. To him, that is true logic; he’s not trying to prove any point. He wants to see and do as much as he can. It’s sort of fantasy living for many of us. I’m behind him all the way.”

Pascal said he was easily accepted into the show by cast mates. “I had never met such a large family of wonderful people. I got along really well with everybody…it’s [a welcoming atmosphere],” he said.

The adulation has begun; Oberyn has become a fan favorite among viewers of all orientations, and the actor has started getting interesting reactions to his portrayal. “I’m in New York right now, rehearsing a play…I get around by walking or taking the train. Every now and then, I get a very friendly smile and a thumbs up from a stranger. Or somebody who’s kindly serving me coffee says, ‘Are you the Prince of Dorne?’ When I haven’t had my coffee yet, I have a moment of confusion: ‘No, I’m Pedro.’ And then I realize what I’m being asked [so] I say, ‘Yes.’ All of the instances have been very sweet and flattering!”

(“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays, 10 p.m. on HBO/HBO HD and Mondays, 10 p.m. on HBO Signature.) 

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