Pedro Pascal birthday: He turns 49
AFP/Nick Agro

MIAMI - Latino actor Pedro Pascal celebrates his 49th birthday on Tuesday amidst a wave of remarkable success. However, his journey to this point was far from smooth sailing. His story has been filled with complicated personal struggles and profound tragedy.

From a turbulent childhood marked by political exile to grappling with the heart-wrenching loss of his mother, Pascal's journey is as compelling as it is inspiring. This rosy moment in his life is a testament to his resilience and strength, as well as his passion for his craft, his deep love for his family and his culture.

Pascal is not only the star of the moment, the darling of Hollywood, or the Internet 'zaddy,' this Latino actor is a living proof of staying the course while being truth to himself.

Early childhood trauma

Born amidst political turmoil in the Chilean capital of Santiago, Pedro Pascal's life story begins with a dramatic escape when his parents found themselves in the crosshairs of Pinochet's brutal dictatorship. Pascal was 4 months old when a gunshot victim during an anti-dictatorship protest was brought to his home so his father, a medical student, could "tend to the wound." His parents decided to "hide" the person "for a while," he said.

Eventually, that gunshot victim was "taken into custody and tortured — and gave names," Pascal said in the podcast Smartless. Seeking safety, his parents fled the country with his older sister Javiera and baby Pedro, first to Denmark and then to Texas. This early experience of displacement and upheaval would lay the groundwork for Pascal's resilient character.

But challenges did not cease with the political exile. Growing up in Texas, Pedro faced the harsh realities of school bullying, a scarring experience that would later find echoes in his acting. However, the most pivotal and heartbreaking moment came in 2000 with the tragic suicide of his mother, Verónica. This loss profoundly impacted Pascal, leading him to honor her memory by adopting her last name. He was born Pedro José Balmaceda Pascal.

The depth of this personal tragedy is captured in his own words:

"The circumstances of my mother's death made it very difficult for us to keep her memory as the person she was. It hurts me a lot. Sometimes I get distressed and try to carry it as best I can, because I know my mother wouldn't want me to do otherwise."

"She was the love of my life. I think of her every day. Since I don't pray, I can't say I have a habit of feeling her close, but I live for her even though she's gone. That makes sense to me."

Acting as an outlet

Pedro Pascal's road to stardom was far from a straight path. It was a winding journey marked by perseverance and occasional detours, but there was never any doubt of his destiny. "Pedro has been obsessed with acting since I can remember," his sister Javiera Balmaceda told The Latin Times. "He was always imitating somebody, performing a part he saw in the movies. It has always been his life."

Pascal's acting career began humbly with an appearance in the cult classic series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997-2003). However, it was not this role that propelled his career. Seeking broader horizons, Pascal traveled to Madrid in the aftermath of his mother's suicide.

In Spain, he dabbled in the city's vibrant nightlife, working as a go-go boy—a stark contrast to his later acting roles. During these formative years, Pascal focused on honing his craft in the independent scene, a decision that reflected both his artistic integrity and the realities of a challenging industry. It was a period of grit and growth, laying the foundation for his eventual breakthrough.

The turning point came through a fortuitous connection with Sarah Paulson, who introduced him to the showrunners of "Game of Thrones." This introduction was a pivotal moment, leading to his breakthrough role as Oberyn Martell—a character that resonated deeply with fans and marked the beginning of his ascent in Hollywood.

Narcos and more

Pedro Pascal's career trajectory took a meteoric turn post-'Game of Thrones' and put him infront of the team casting the now acclaimed Netflix series "Narcos", where he played Latino DEA agent Javier Peña.

"This was a dream role that allowed me to spend months in Latin America. It was fabulous to be able to connect and expand my latino roots," he told the Latin Times after filming "Narcos 3". "I had always gone back to Chile on vacation and knew many Latinos in the U.S., but being in Colombia for so long was extraordinary."

Then came movies like "Wonder Woman 1984", and "Kingsman," among others.

Then came movies like "Wonder Woman 1984", and "Kingsman," among others.

Mando and Joel

However, it's his recent roles as "The Mandalorian," in the Star Wars universe, and Joel Miller in the critically acclaimed series "The Last of Us" that have truly solidified his status as a leading man in Hollywood. His performance in this adaptation of the popular video game series has been lauded for its depth and authenticity, resonating powerfully with audiences worldwide.

In 2023 and 2024, Pascal's career continues to soar. He has been selected to play Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, in Marvel's upcoming "The Fantastic Four," slated for a July 25, 2025 release. He is part of the acclaimed film "The Uninvited," which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival last month.

Pascal's star power continues to shine in "Gladiator," with Paul Mescal, set for an opening on November 22, 2024. This Paramount project, a sequel to the 2001 Oscar winner, sees Pascal stepping into a world of ancient Rome, a testament to his versatility as an actor.

On the small screen, Pascal is set to return as Joel Miller in "The Last of Us Season 2," filming for one episode. This role, which has garnered him Emmy, and Golden Globes nominations, illustrates his capacity to bring depth and humanity to characters in a post-apocalyptic world.

Adding to his eclectic mix of projects, Pascal filmed "Tropico" in São Luís, Maranhão. This steamy thriller, set in northern Brazil, casts him as a spy entangled in a complex web of romance and deception, starts filming on April 18.

In a different vein, Pascal stars in the TV series "My Dentist's Murder Trial," a gripping tale based on the real-life story of Dr. Gilberto Núñez, accused of the death of his best friend. This project highlights Pascal's skill in portraying real-life, layered characters.

Pedro Pascal, at 49, stands at the zenith of his career. His journey from a struggling actor to a household name is a narrative of resilience, talent, and the power of enduring through life's challenges.

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