INTERVIEW: Pedro Pascal’s Rise To Becoming Hollywood’s Most Likable Movie Star

INTERVIEW: Pedro Pascal's Rise To Being Hollywood's Most Likable Star

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  • Ever since starring in the fourth season of Game of Thrones, Pedro Pascal has been on a meteoric rise to A-list stardom.
  • Pascal’s pop-cultural status will only rise with the release of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, one of the most hilarious studio comedies in recent memory.
  • Pascal sat down with BroBible’s Post-Credit Podcast for an exclusive interview ahead of the film’s release.

As I told Pedro Pascal at the top and close of our interview, I’m utterly fascinated by the recent arc of his career. Now 47-years-old, Pascal’s blazing rise to stardom over the last few years has been virtually unrivaled on Hollywood’s A-list, as the former Game of Thrones star has grown from a supporting television actor to being the anchor of a Star Wars franchise. Just look at his filmography — prior to 2015, he had just starred in four films since beginning his career in 1999.

Ever since that career-altering turn in Game of Thrones‘ fourth season, though, Pascal has charted a path to the top of his industry, starring alongside the likes of Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac, and in franchises such as Star Wars and Wonder Woman. He’s featured in action films like the Kingsman and Equalizer sequels, Oscar contenders like If Beale Street Could Talk, and comedies like Judd Apatow’s The Bubble and the upcoming riot The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

The reason The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent should elevate his star power to yet another stratosphere, though, is that despite the fact that he’s starring alongside the iconic Nicolas Cage, it’s been argued by some that Pascal’s billionaire drug kingpin Javi is actually the film’s scene-stealer.

During an exclusive interview with Pascal ahead of the film’s release, BroBible chatted with the endlessly charming actor about working alongside one of his idols, the most important thing he learned from Nicolas Cage, “refreshing” his memory of what it’s like to be on drugs, the magic of The Mandalorian, and more.


Eric Italiano: Folks, today I am joined by Pedro Pascal, an actor you know from projects such as Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman 1984, The Mandalorian, and his latest film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which hit theaters on April 22nd. Thank you so much for joining me, man. How are you?

Pedro Pascal: I’m great, how are you doing?

EI: Let me just start with congrats on the film. As I told Nick [Cage], I was literally slapping my knee and stomping my feet from laughing so hard, and I think what’s really cool about this film is that it’s the first time in a long time that I can remember laughing like that in a movie theater, and I think that’s gonna be the case for a lot of people, man.

PP: Oh man, I hope you’re right. It’s the same for me. We premiered the movie at South by Southwest, and it was a packed theater, and it was my first time in a packed theater in… I can’t remember when. And it just felt like a rock concert. It was strange to be in the movie. I had such a good time.

Rising to the challenge of starring alongside Nicolas Cage

EI: Here’s where I want to start: What is your psyche like heading into day one of shooting? Because not only are you starring alongside Nick Cage, an iconically scene-stealing performer, but you’re starring alongside Nick Cage who’s playing himself. Is there an element of trying to go toe-to-toe with him, or not wanting to be blown off the screen? I’m just curious what it’s like starring hand-in-hand, right alongside such an iconic performer like him.”

PP: If I was going to do my job correctly — to be intimidated is completely natural — but to be worried that they’re going to blow you off-screen wouldn’t really be good logic for the heart of the character. So, it was really easy to anchor myself into admiration and worship and if he wanted to blow me off the f—ing screen, he always allowed to blow me off the screen. If he wanted to invite me into the scene, if he wanted to give me light, if he wanted to take it away — I was his bitch, basically. And I felt like that was the right thing to do for the character and to tell the story. And, of course, he wouldn’t do any of those things, he’s a complete professional, and he’s an incredible scene partner.

PP: There was almost something about, I don’t know, reawakening the things that you care about and why you got into it in the first place, because he’s still challenging himself, he’s super prepared, he’s coming up with new ideas, and, honestly, it was an incredible challenge to rise to but it was mostly a really beautiful inspiration and a reminder of why I had this fantasy to start with and then study and then job. It was because of how he feels and how he treats acting.

EI: I got that same sense for him when I spoke to him. Something he brought up a few times was how much it [playing himself] scared him and that’s why he took it on. And I just asked that of you because I’m curious if elite actors have the same mentality as elite athletes. If you’re guarding LeBron James, you gotta bring your A-game that night. So, I was just curious if it’s the same thing in your line of work/

PP: I definitely didn’t feel like I could slack off. You know what I mean? My best efforts were brought to each day of work. I guess what I mean to say is that it wasn’t hard because I felt held. All you had to do is agree to dance.

How he’s crafted his rise to A-list stardom

EI: I am utterly fascinated by the arc of your career and your rise to stardom. I genuinely mean when I say that I think you and your team are doing an incredible job of selecting projects and building momentum off each one…

PP: Don’t give my agents any credit. They don’t deserve it. Let’s not plug my agents in this.

EI: That’s all you?! Well, if they’re in the room with us, sorry fellas and ladies! Let me just ask you, though, how do you go about choosing your roles, and what about this role drew you to it? Was there a portion of it being like, “Hey, everyone check it out — I can do comedy, too!”

PP: Actually, my agent really, really loved this project. And he called me about it — I was at the airport, sometimes you get an email or you get asked if you’re interested in something — this was a phone call to tell me how excited he was about a script. And then he told me what it was about, which I thought was hilarious. I read it that day. And honestly, I’m a big movie nerd, and if you just look at my timeline and at the age that I started to consume cinema, Nicolas Cage was just so much a part of it, and he’s kind of my Marlon Brando now. And within every kind of genre of movies —  whether it’s a comedy or a low budget independent or something big commercial or action or whatever — he was still bringing these wild characters to life, so that was obviously the biggest draw to me. And then having lunch with [director] Tom Gormican and [screenwriter] Kevin Etten and talking about Nic. Really, that’s all that we talked about. I felt like I may have known a little bit more than they did about his career, and that could be what got me the part: my true love of Nicolas.

What he learned from Nicolas Cage that he’ll take with him

EI: To that end, what did you learn from him that you’ll take with you going forward in your work?

PP: I would learn how to just never stop caring and to always keep learning and keep it challenging yourself. I think that I couldn’t have worked with somebody that was more thoughtful and also genuinely dedicated, and it was sort of like the portrait of what I dreamed about and what my greatest influence was. And to actually kind of see it executed in front of me, or for that to be my actual scene partner, reminded me to not be lazy, to never get complacent, and that if you don’t care, you can’t do it. You always have to keep caring and risking and just really putting everything that you have into it, no matter what… Which I think he’s done in every single type of movie he’s ever made.

Drawing from personal experience while acting like he’s on drugs

EI: There’s a scene where your character and Nick go through, let’s call an adventure through the town. And I said this to Nick, you guys do an incredible job of portraying what it’s like being on — to not spoil — *that substance*. Were you drawing from any personal experience in that scene and how did you go about crafting that part of your performance?

PP: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

EI: Let me just say, as somebody who is aware, I thought you guys did an absolutely incredible job of the wide-eyed disorientation.

PP: There was a funny thing that I did do, actually… I took a bunch of drugs that day. I’m just kidding. I actually looked at — just out of curiosity — I went to YouTube and somebody had tried to, at least as accurately as possible, create what the visual experience is. Just to teach myself or… refreshen my memory. It was such a practical thing to do to actually make myself use my eyes to change the details of what is visually surrounding me may have helped.

First reaction when he read The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent script

EI: Man, you guys… It was a riot. An absolute riot. So thank you for that laugh. You brought up when you got the script — what was your reaction when you first read it? Were you able to visualize and see the full scope of it? At what stage of the process where you’re like, “Oh, I get what we’re going for here?”

PP: The thing that I was most engaged by was how good the relationships are in the movie. The friendship between Nicolas Cage and Javi. The ad also Sharon Horgan and Lily Sheen playing his family, and even his relationship to his agent. I just really believed these relationships, I found them really engaging. Because, yes, the idea is fantastic, especially if you’re a Nicolas Cage fan — you couldn’t think of something better. But it wouldn’t work if you didn’t believe the relationships in the movie, and actually, almost kind of forget about the meta aspect, and then just get invested and have a good time Which, ultimately, I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off. I thought that it was a really, really great idea, and it’s just so unfortunate that it probably won’t work. Ad I will say, it really did! I really had the best time when I saw it, and I’m really, really proud of Tom, Kevin, and Nick and everyone involved because I just had such a good time. I miss movies and this movie just made me remember what movies are.

The magic of The Mandalorian

EI: Yeah, well, the fun that you guys have definitely comes through. I want to swing over to The Mandalorian, but not to pry about Seaosn 3.

PP: Well I’m not gonna tell ya nothin’!

EI: I know, I know. I more so want to look backward. I grew up with the prequels. And, for me, this show [The Mandalorian], was the first time that I finally understood ‘Star Wars magic’. It was the scene in the season one finale where you guys are holed up in the bar, and Mando — the door opens, you kick your way out and the score swells up — and for the first time in my life, I was like, ‘Wow, Star Wars magic. I finally get it.’ Is there a moment like that for you, in your show or the franchise at large?”

PP: I was born in ’75, so Star Wars is just part of my upbringing — the first films. Similarly — like it is to step on set and get in front of the camera with Nicolas Cage as your scene partner — is a very similar experience to have stepped onto the set of The Mandalorian. Because there is so much that is made visually with this Volume apparatus [the technology used to display special effects], that is kind of a new wave of technology, but there are very, very practical effects that are involved in these very immaculate and incredible sets that are built. And it was like stepping into your own imagination that was so influenced by these first films that came out. And there couldn’t be anything more bizarre and beautiful in that regard, because it was so much a part of my childhood experience.

EI: Why do you think that this show has connected to fans in such a way? If the last 10 years have taught us anything about Star Wars, it’s very hard to please a large portion of the fan base. What do you think that your show is doing well?

PP: I think it’s really simple. I think it’s just because John Favreau and Dave Filoni and everyone behind the show love Star Wars so much. And they take the time to actually prioritize that love, and to nurture that, and to find the stories through something that’s very close to their hearts. Similarly, just to plug this movie as well as Tom and Kevin have done with their love of Nicolas Cage, it’s kind of what makes it work, is caring about it so much, so that translates. People can feel that.

EI: Pedro, as I said at the top, I have been fascinated by your arch last few years. I think you’ve turned into one of the most likable, easy to root for movie stars that we have. I wish you all the best going forward, whether it be… What?!

PP: Nothing! I have a hangover. You’re making me emotional.

EI: I was like, ‘Did I offend him?!’ No, but seriously, man, I love your work, you seem like such a great guy, and I can’t wait to see all the stuff that you have for us in the next few years.

PP: Thanks, man, thanks so much. It was such a pleasure to talk to you.

EI: Take care, sir.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits theaters on Friday, April 22.

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