These days, Pedro Pascal is best known for playing the titular character in Star Wars: The Mandalorian and he'll soon be known to DC fans for portraying Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984. However, one of his earlier brushes with big fandoms was Game of Thrones. The actor portrayed Oberyn Martell during the show's fourth season and his character remained a fan favorite even after his gruesome death. During a recent interview with Variety, Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff reflected on casting Pascal and explained by he was the perfect Red Viper.
“That was such a tricky role to cast,” Benioff explained. “Oberyn entered the story mid-stream, but required the swagger of a character who had been sparring with the other players off-screen for years. We were looking for an actor with charisma, sexual energy, physical menace and depth. He had to be seductive to both men and women; he had to be someone the audience could believe as a killer. Oberyn has a core of white-hot rage that motivates him, and we wanted someone who could convey that anger but also be funny, when called upon, and sensitive, when called upon."
“First of all, it was an iPhone selfie audition, which was unusual,” he added of Pascal’s first audition. “And this wasn’t one of the new-fangled iPhones with the fancy cameras. It looked like shit; it was shot vertical; the whole thing was very amateurish. Except for the performance, which was intense and believable and just right.”
“Once we saw the entire season there was no doubt Pedro was going to be a star," Benioff recalled. "I thought he deserved more recognition, frankly. Was he nominated for any awards? He should have been. But Dan [Weiss] and I were thrilled that we gave Pedro a job that helped his ascent because he’s an absolute gem of an actor and a man.”
Despite loving Pascal in the role, the showrunners never considered sparing Oberyn.
“Nope. I mean, we love Pedro. And we loved that character. But his death at the hands of the Mountain was one of our favorite brutal killings from George’s books (which feature a few thousand brutal killings, so that’s saying something). Part of the reason people remember Oberyn is because he died so horribly. And if we hadn’t killed him, poor Pedro never could have done Narcos. So, it worked out. Not for Oberyn. But for the rest of us."
Every season of Game of Thrones is available to stream on all HBO platforms.