The love for Pedro Pascal has hit a milestone with his hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, his popularity only expanding. Hearing him guffaw, which is the only way to describe it, when he breaks character is practically a sigh of relief for fans who usually see him be incredibly somber in dramatic roles. In an Esquire interview, Pascal mentions his role in Game of Thrones as making him “feel like a boss.” There is a good reason for these words, but he’s also very much “like a boss” elsewhere, giving the characters he’s recently played a daunting or cocky persona. It could be in a fantasy kingdom or when playing doomsday-Mario in an SNL skit, but these weren’t always the roles the actor took on. Look no further than his appearance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer to see a lonelier side to Pedro Pascal.
With or Without Fangs
The first days at college are rough, for non-slayers and slayers alike. In the Season 4 opener "The Freshman," Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds it harder to fit in on campus, while her friend Willow (Alyson Hannigan) easily turns it into her second home. The library is impressive, but Buffy doesn’t see her high school mentor Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) there. What doesn’t help either is the harsh and unforgiving first impressions she receives from several figures. In Psych 105, the professor forcefully brands the course as not for the slow-minded. Another professor berates Buffy for attending his class without signing up beforehand, then there’s the RA who views freshmen that leave their first semester as the “weak ones.” Damn, no wonder why vampires are roaming about, they fit in rather well with the hostile environment. This brings us to Buffy’s run-in with a not-yet-famous face.
Pascal, credited as Pedro Balmaceda, without his signature mustache, plays Eddie, a deer-in-the-headlights, downbeat fellow freshman. He collides with Buffy while attempting to use a campus map to pinpoint his location. Suffice it to say, he isn’t having much luck. The two instantly recognize their similar predicaments, leading him to share that he’s a book lover, currently finding comfort in rereading Of Human Bondage. By W. Somerset Maugham, it's a coming-of-age story of a young man who can’t quite figure out the best direction in life, whether in a career path or especially in obsessing over a toxic lover.
That this is Eddie’s “safety blanket” novel is ironic because as he’s a guest star and this is Buffy, Eddie is doomed. When he tells Buffy, “I think it’s supposed to get easier," it’s as much of an omen as a character asking out loud in a slasher movie, “Who’s there?” It won’t end well, and after the two part ways, a gang of vamps attacks, taking him as their next prey. Led by Sunday (Katharine Towne), these are weirdo hipsters, excited about Klimt and Monet paintings they find among victims’ belongings. Think of The Lost Boys (1987), if more gender diverse, and they were college dropouts living in a dilapidated college building. The bloodsucking fiends are bored out of their minds, taking freshmen who won’t be missed. In a Vulture interview looking back on the role, Pascal shared nothing but love, the fact it had so little screen time was part of what he liked, saying “Oh! This is Buffy’s new friend. This is a new character for Season 4. No, just kidding — he’s dead.” Sunday and her vamps have one problem this time around, they aim to target freshmen who won’t be missed, and Eddie will be.
One Vampire Down, Another to Go
Seeking out someone in times of stress and feeling out of place is encapsulated within Buffy and Eddie’s interaction. Buffy, like many freshmen, finds trouble getting comfortable at a new setting. She connects to Eddie, so when he disappears and his favorite novel is left behind, she knows something is wrong. It isn’t long before she meets Eddie again, but he isn’t the same person this time around. “I was worried that something had happened to you,” Buffy says, before seeing the familiar face prosthetics and eye contacts, “— and of course, it has, because you’re a vampire.” They tussle, this ending with Buffy taking care of business, slowly regaining her confidence.
1999 was a big year for the young actor, getting roles in Good vs Evil, Downtown, and Undressed, though, of course, Buffy is the iconic series out of these appearances, and it sure isn’t Pascal’s only time as a vampire. In Bloodsucking Bastards (2015), he’s Max, a boss from hell, having a ball of a time in causing carnage. He likes to play with his prey, telling an employee with casual menace, “I just devoured her — fabulous Ossobuco.” Staking away from vampires, Pascal has gone on to play several intense men.
Pascal’s Rise From Meek To Intimidating
Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, gets a grand entrance to Game of Thrones’ fourth season, selecting lovers to bring to bed, before wounding an enemy and then proclaiming his desire for retribution for a past tragedy. This reckless, brazen personality of his, paves the way for a shocking end, grislier than the puff of dust Vampire-Eddie disintegrates into. In Narcos, the very first reference to Pascal’s role is in side characters referring to him as, “an asshole.” Javier Peña can be that, though the complexities Pascal gets to play adds so much more. This is a DEA agent who has to survive in a world of violence and corruption, and to do so, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to help catch his target.
Reaching back, into a galaxy far away, there is The Mandalorian. This is the Way, as it’s starring vehicle for the actor and one where Pascal creates a fascinating warrior to add to Star Wars lore, breathing life into the fully suited, helmet-wearing Mando, who will fiercely protect his “little womb rat,” Grogu. And where he once lost to vampires and a slayer, Pascal preserves in the post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us. Joel is a grizzled man who has lost so much and might have a reason to keep on going forward, by protecting Ellie (Bella Ramsey), the girl immune to the fungal infection that has laid waste to society. Pascal’s face is no stranger to prosthetics, and in a Collider interview, he describes what helps him take on Joel, “If I didn’t have that dry gray hair, and wrinkled, sun-stained and damaged skin, I wouldn’t be able to feel the experience of the character, and thereby know how to play it.”
It’s interesting to watch the actor in Buffy, when he wasn’t a household name, he was simply an eager actor. During Eddie’s limited screen-time, Pascal gets a lot to play still. Other than his monstrous fate, he’s nervous and innocent, which is in stark contrast to the characters the actor will become known for. As he shows while hosting SNL, Pascal doesn’t take himself too seriously, and in a WIRED video he gets to the topic of the shows he's popped up in. He does the thing Pedro Pascal would do, he starts singing the theme songs, doing his take on Rodrigo Amarante’s hypnotic theme for Narcos, and shouting out guitar-like sounds for Nerf Herder’s theme to Buffy. For such a small part, it's a highlight on his demo reel. Pascal’s charisma and talents radiate in his scenes as poor Eddie, which is all the more impressive because when put together (including a shot of him incapacitated), it makes for barely three minutes out of a 45-minute episode.