After ‘Game of Thrones,’ Pedro Pascal stirs up ‘Much Ado’

Much Ado About Nothing Public Theater Delacorte Theater Central Park Pedro Pascal Don John
Pedro Pascal, left, is the villainous Don John in “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Credit: Joan Marcus

You could call Pedro Pascal a hometown boy made good.

Best known for his portrayal of the late great Oberyn Martell on “Game of Thrones,” the 39-year-old Chilean began his acting career in New York City as an undergrad at NYU. And for an actor in this town, there’s no bigger stage than Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, where Pascal is bringing the drama as the villainous Don John in “Much Ado About Nothing,” part of Shakespeare in the Park and presented free by The Public Theater.

We caught up with the Brooklyn resident ahead of Monday’s official opening to talk being back onstage, the fan response to Oberyn and his “South American shame.”

How did you get involved with the production?

When I found out that they were gonna be doing “Much Ado About Nothing” in the park, I was hoping to be seen for the role of Don John. I was actually in New York (in March) for the premiere of “Game of Thrones,” and there was this tiny window to audition for [director] Jack O’Brien.

“Game of Thrones” and the Central Park stage both feel grand in their own ways.

The part on “Game of Thrones” is the closest I’ve come to achieving that kind of theater-like experience. Because there’s something about doing Shakespeare in the Park specifically — it’s my second time, I had a tiny part in “Macbeth” eight years ago — about being in the Delacorte Theater, outdoors with 1,800 seats. Everyone is there for free, and there’s a generosity that emanates from the audience, and how welcoming they are at the gate is this incredible, untouchable experience that can’t be really compared to anything else.

There’s over 100 productions that have happened with Shakespeare in the Park since 1962 — the historical significance of placing yourself at the center of that, whether you’re doing something small or large, it’s very magical. And that is often something that can be found creatively as an experience onstage, and doing “Game of Thrones” is sort of what came closest to that.

You’re a pretty physical actor. Do you feel better suited to the stage or screen?

My training is in the theater; I’m much more knowledgeable of film as an audience member. There isn’t really anything that can compare to being onstage in front of an audience. It’s always hard to answer this question, because a good role in a good play with a good house is an untouchable experience. But there are definitely really interesting things about doing on-camera work that can’t be achieved onstage as well. So I wouldn’t necessarily be able to choose one over the other. I do love the physical experience of being onstage; it’s a pretty demanding one. I love discovering the definitions of a character through physicality.

Oberyn liked to stir up trouble. Do you share that element of mischief?

Possibly! Many of my friends would probably accuse me of being mischievous. I think that for any actor, mischief is sort of a delicious thing to play: What exactly motivates creating chaos? And those are always really fun things to discover.

The character also had great moments of levity. Would you like to do more comedy?

I love comedy, it’s a very special challenge for actors because I think the key to making it work is to be as truthful as anything. So it takes a lot of skill alongside truthfulness. Humor can be such a reflection of truths and ironies, and the complexities of reality can always translate in such humorous ways.

game of thrones oberyn martell the mountain episode 8 season 4
Oberyn Martell, right, fell to the might of The Mountain in “The Viper and the Mountain” episode of “Game of Thrones.”
Credit: HBO

What will stay with you about the “Game of Thrones” experience?

This was definitely the best part I’d ever played, and it was the best writing that I’d ever gotten to do on television. The creative experience of getting to sink your teeth into a delicious character, in a project that has found such success, such a blockbuster television show, and what makes it that I think is ultimately really good storytelling. So to be able to play a really great character within something as large as that is something that I’ll creatively never forget. The creative experience of getting to do David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]’s writing in that world, and getting into the skin of that character and being in Michele Clapton’s costumes, and all the attention, that’s really special.

What kinds of reactions have you gotten from fans?

People have been really sweet, very enthusiastic and really supportive. And it’s an enormous relief; [Oberyn] was a big undertaking for me, and one that I was pretty nervous about doing because he’s such an extravagant character, and I really wasn’t sure how it would be received. And it’s always nice to be back in New York, where I’ve been for 20 years, and have a stranger on the subway start smiling and giving me a thumbs up and a “Congratulations!” or “I’m so sorry you’re dead.”

The World Cup is underway – as a Chilean, are you a soccer fan?

I’m very unskilled at soccer, it’s sort of my South American shame that I was never any good at it. But of course, I’m behind Chile all the way.

What’s next for you?

I will be going down to Colombia to shoot a series for Netflix called “Narcos.” It’s about the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, and I’ll be playing a living DEA agent, Javier Pena, who was sent to Colombia on a U.S. mission to capture and ultimately kill him.

“Much Ado About Nothing” runs through July 6. For more information, visit The Public TheaterFollow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us. 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.