MONSIEUR: PEDRO PASCAL
“As Mr Pedro Pascal slumps in a chair in the Soho Hotel in London, he tells me a story: two days before leaving the set of his current project in Seattle, an indie film called Prospect, the summoned driver didn’t recognise him and dismissed him as one of the city’s homeless. “I was wearing a loose flannel,” he says. “I was wearing comfortable clothes to travel.”
The actor blames his collapsing luggage – held together by duct tape after stints in Colombia, Croatia, China, Belfast and London – rather than his attire. Still, that embarrassment speaks of the frayed-at-the-edges madness of the 42-year-old’s life these past couple of years.
Wearing his living-out-of-a-suitcase civvies – white T-shirt, blue jeans, black sneakers – his circadian rhythms are out of sync due to jet lag. His brain throbs from a Saturday morning of press appointments. And as far as his body is concerned, well, let’s just say any physical aches are nothing to do with post-gym burn. “Do I look like I gym?” he says, proffering a flabby upper arm.
Suit Jacket, Royal Oxford Shirt and Trousers
I ask him to sum up the past two years in one sentence. Mr Pascal thinks hard, sipping his black Americano. He tries to wriggle out of it. Eventually he responds, “Ouch, my back.”
“It’s funny that I can’t come up with an answer,” he says. “That failure has so much to do with the go-go-go aspect of the past two years. You never feel like you’re catching up. It’s the irony of getting what you’ve worked so hard for. You do have to stop and look behind you and assess what’s happened. And there’s the weird reality that loads has happened, and it’s all on film.”
Indeed it has. As Mr Pascal reached the end of his thirties, he finally put two decades as a jobbing player behind him and claimed Next Big Thing status. As Ms Sarah Paulson, a friend from their days as young wannabe actors in New York, puts it, “Most people don’t get to be in their early forties and have their lives changed, work-wise, in this business.”
First there was a memorable run in season 4 of Game Of Thrones. Mr Pascal played Prince Oberyn Martell, the all-fighting, all-fornicating Red Viper of Dorne (his exterior scenes were shot in Croatia, the interiors in Belfast). The adoptive Los Angeleno’s time on the show began with an access-all-areas-and-sexes orgy and ended with his head being crushed like a watermelon by Cersei’s favourite knight known as The Mountain.
Then there was a switch to the big screen for The Great Wall, the would-be blockbuster that Oscars host Mr Jimmy Kimmel larkily dubbed Mr Matt Damon’s “Chinese ponytail movie”. Then back to the small screen for Narcos, the Netflix series about Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s. In what amounts to something of a homecoming job, Mr Pascal plays Mr Javier Peña, a real-life field operative with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Narcos shoots for six months of the year in Colombia, and the recently wrapped season three launched this month. There is blood, corruption and cocaine, mountains of it, with Mr Pascal once again at the heart of the action. But no Pablo Escobar.
But for now, it’s back to the movies. In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the explosive follow-up to 2015’s box-office triumph Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Mr Matthew Vaughn cast Mr Pascal as one of his Statesman. They’re the rootin’, tootin’, six-gun-shootin’ American counterparts of the stiff-upper-quips British secret agents led by Messrs Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Taron Egerton. Mr Pascal plays Agent Whiskey, a “suited and booted cowboy” working with Mr Channing Tatum’s and Mr Jeff Bridges’ “rancher cowboy” agents.
“Matthew Vaughn has his finger on the pulse of nostalgia,” says Mr Pascal. “He takes us back to our childhoods in a naughty way. There’s such a wink there. And it’s really quite edgy – it’s rated R.” He credits Mr Vaughn with seeing something in his performance in the first season of Narcos (“And let’s be honest, I was quite marginal in that first season”) and hanging on to that vision of “this Burt Reynolds guy”.
“And 20th Century Fox could have said, ‘Who the f**k is Pedro Pascal?’ And Matthew was like, ‘That’s who I want.’” His self-doubt only added to his appeal. “(Pedro) had the swagger and confidence,” Mr Vaughn has observed, “but at the same time, such vulnerability of expecting to be rejected.”
Read the full interview at
Photography Paul Wetherell Styling Olie Arnold
Words & Interview Craig McLean