The Chilean actor Pedro Pascal has been reaping success on the small screen with appearances in series like “Narcos,” “The Mandalorian” and recently “The Last of Us.” However, behind his rising star is a painful story: the fact that his mother did not live to see him succeed.
Pascal is the son of Verónica Pascal, a child psychologist, and José Balmaceda, a fertility doctor. His parents had to flee Chile due to being part of the opposition movement against Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Verónica Pascal was the niece of Andrés Pascal Allende, leader of the country’s Revolutionary Left Movement and the nephew of Salvador Allende.
When he was 9 months old, his family took refuge in Denmark and later in San Antonio, Texas. “They offered us political asylum in Denmark and shortly after they received a job offer in the U.S. For that reason, that opportunity, I grew up here. That is the power of our culture. People from all over the world come to this country to offer their skills,” he told EFE regarding his experience.
In an interview with People in 2020, he said that as a child he argued a lot with his parents. “I’m being a little harsh with myself, but this would have been about eight years after they had been running for their lives,” he said. “I was so well taken care of and shielded from it.”
His family moved to California when he was 11 years old. That’s when acting caught his attention and he began taking classes at Orange County School of the Arts. In 1993, he enrolled at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
While he was studying, his father was allegedly involved in a scandal with the fertility clinic he ran, which, according to Telemundo, made him along with his wife and two youngest children return to Chile.
His mother's tragic death
In 2000, when Pedro was 24 years old and struggling to make his way in the world of acting, his mother took her own life. At that time, the actor had the stage name Pedro Balmaceda. After her death, he changed it to Pedro Pascal.
Speaking about her tragic death, the actor told Paula magazine in 2017 in Spanish, “The circumstances of my mother’s death made it very hard for us to remember her as the person she was. It hurts so much…Sometimes I feel anguished and I try to deal with it in the best possible way, because I know that my mother would not want me to do it any other way.”
In 2020, he also spoke about her, telling People, “She was always incredibly supportive, never a stage mom. I always felt like she knew something that I didn’t. None of (my success) would be real if it weren’t for her.”
On Feb. 15, 2021, he shared a photo of her on Instagram along with a sweet message for her birthday: “Mom, here you are in Denmark at 22. Married, a refugee and mother of two. Years later, you would have two more, another son and another daughter. We are doing well; we are taking care of ourselves. Not a day goes by that you’re not with us and we appreciate you.”
In that same 2017 Paula interview, he said, “She was the love of my life. I think about her every day. I don’t pray, so I can’t say I have a religious practice to feel close to her, but I live for her, even though she’s gone.”
“Losing the most important person in your life, discovering that something like this is possible and that what you fear most in life can happen, is an unexplainable and permanent moment. There is a before and after her death.”
After the death of his mother, Pascal’s career slowed down. In the early 2000’s he landed small, stereotypical Latino male roles: gang member and drug dealer. He appeared in various police series such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Without a Trace,” “Law & Order” and “The Mentalist.”
But in 2014, “Game of Thrones” introduced a new character, Prince Oberyn Martell, played by Pascal, and he quickly became one of the most beloved actors who is remembered for his brutal death on the show.
He then started landing leading roles, such as DEA agent Javier Peña in “Narcos." He also joined the superhero universe in “Wonder Woman 1984,” and was chosen by Jon Favreau to give life to Din Djarin in “The Mandalorian” from the “Star Wars” saga. And now, he stars in the show of the moment, the adaptation of the video game “The Last of Us.”
This article has been translated from Spanish and was originally published on Telemundo.com.