Pedro Pascal On Oberyn’s Bisexuality, Going “All In” On Nudity And More!


This week saw the return of Game Of Thrones, and with it the intriguing new character of Oberyn Martell, aka The Red Viper (played by Pedro Pascal). Oberyn instantly shows himself to be, shall we say … and equal-opportunity letch.

Vulture sat down with Pedro to discuss the Red Viper, and what we can look forward to seeing. On his character’s bisexuality:

The Red Viper enjoys life. He does not discriminate in his pleasures. This is the way he understands life, to live it to its fullest. And to limit yourself in terms of experience doesn’t make any sense to him — what’s beautiful is beautiful. And I love that what George R.R. Martin created is this brilliant, progressive person who makes a lot of sense to me. He’s a lover and a fighter. He’s going to do it, everything, to its fullest. So why leave out girls or boys, you know what I mean? That’s what’s so amazing about this character that George R.R. Martin created and David and Dan are translating onto screen: It’s just very punk-rock. It doesn’t make any sense to him to limit his experience of pleasure, so it’s not making a point, but it literally doesn’t make any sense to deny yourself something beautiful, whether it is wine or food, a man or a woman, being a father or being a lover or being a fighter. Always live to the fullest. I think that’s a brilliant, kind of progressive thing that they’re telling in this story. They’re really seizing the opportunity to get a very cool message across.

On balancing out the nudity ratio:

Nobody asked me to hide anything. I was all in. When does Game of Thrones ever fail you in terms of like not going all the way with something? They give you candy from both sides. I’d insist upon it!

And if he bares all, it might open the male floodgates?

Because I’m the one who has to usher in all the boy candy? That’s a lot of pressure, actually. I didn’t know — I never thought of it that way until now, but now it’s done. [Laughs.]

Pascal also talked to the Daily Beast about the character and the show's approach to him.

What did their email say about the Red Viper?

They talked about him being a person who lives uncompromisingly and does what he wants when he wants it, and that living life like that isn’t necessarily very sane. While it doesn’t make him crazy, he’s still aware of that and chooses to live his life as dangerously as he possibly can—because he wants to. And he also doesn’t fear anyone—or anything—which is also not very sane. We talked about that stuff, and then I taped it again well-lit and mic’d, and they told me to come out to Belfast to meet everybody. I was under the impression that I had to go there and nail it and convince them that I’m the dude, but they had already made their decision. There was a weird miscommunication where I didn’t know that I had gotten the job, so I got there thinking I was going in for the final round of auditions and I came in and they said, “Congratulations! We’re so glad you’re here!” So I spent the entire day with my head in the clouds going in and out of costume fittings.

Do you have a ritual to get into Red Viper mode?

I go out on the street, go up to strangers, talk a bunch of shit and tell them, “These are your options: do you want to fuck or fight?” [Laughs] But it’s basically just living the fantasy of being somebody who chooses not to have any fear and is capable of living his or her life that way. But he’s not dumb. And this fearlessness is also shaped by this tragedy that’s happened in his family that he’s out to avenge. He’s this big, enormous badass, but it all stems from a tragedy and a rage that’s burning inside him.

It’s interesting because there is this rage burning inside him, but he’s not sneaky about his hatred of the Lannisters. He flat out tells them he’s out for revenge.

He just doesn’t give a shit. He’s not trying to hide anything. He’s just fearless. He shows up and says, “This is why I’m here, this is what’s going to happen, and if you have a problem with that… you know my name is the Red Viper, right?” But that’s the amazing thing about him: he’s capable of such hate, but he also really knows how to have fun. That’s his philosophy in life: what the hell else are we here for but to do what we want? He’s also a prince so he’s in a better position than most to be able to do what he wants, so he seizes the opportunity to do just that—to go after the people that have wronged him, or to enjoy the “company” of anyone.

Oberyn Martell has an interesting backstory that isn’t shown onscreen. His sister was raped and cut in half, then he has these eight bastard daughters, and many lovers, including his main squeeze, Ellaria Sand.

He has many lovers but he’s settled with one that really leads the way in a lot of the fun that they have. He’s found his match. But I think his backstory is just part of the richness of the character. It comes from the books, but David and Dan also find creative ways to implement the richness into just scenes of two people talking. He’s a very dangerous person but I also, in a way, find him to be a really good person. As a prince, he’s had these eight daughters out of wedlock and could have abandoned them, but he raises them and loves them. The fascinating thing about Game of Thrones is that none of the badasses are just badasses, and none of the wimps are just wimps. A coward will surprise you with courage, and a very powerful person will blindside you with weakness, and the most evil person is capable of the most compassionate moment.

How did you capture his accent and look? He’s a bit different from the books in that he’s got short, cropped hair, and has this exotic, vaguely Hispanic accent.

The way he sounds and composes himself is just something I went with on instinct from reading the scenes from the show, and I used an accent in my first audition tape because I figured he seemed like a different character from everyone else we’ve come to know on the show, and that it would be valuable for him not just to look different, but sound different.

He’s also one of the few royals on the show that isn’t white.

There you go! He comes from another land. He comes from the punk rock area of Westeros!

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