From little-known to new heart-throb

Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal, a new addition to television series Game Of Thrones in Season 4, is already well-versed in the art of not giving away any spoilers.

In a 20-minute telephone interview with Life! and other regional media to promote the show yesterday, he proved his finesse in talking a lot without actually saying anything.

In the epic fantasy series, the 39-year-old actor plays Prince Oberyn Martell, a charismatic and fearless warrior who is also a sexual adventurer.

Throw him a question on whether he wears a "sock" over his genitalia for the show's famously graphic sex scenes and he is careful to refer only to whatever has already aired.

"Technically, I was only half naked in one scene so really, I was able to keep my pants on. I don't know how, but I did," he says, deadpan.

Will his handsome face eventually sport a battle scar in the coming episodes, like so many other characters do in the drama?

He skirts the issue altogether to talk about his real-life scar: "Well, I have my own scar from when I was four years old - I tried to do a backflip and landed on my chin. But as far as Oberyn's concerned, it's amazing how much fighting he's done without getting a significant scar. We can only hope he makes it through the fight with The Mountain unscathed."

He is referring to the highly anticipated fight between his character and that of The Mountain, or Gregor Clegane (played by Hafthor Julius Bjornsson), which will air on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601) on June 8.

The outcome of this "trial by combat" will determine the fate of the show's major character Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage), who is being held for the murder of his nephew Joffrey.

Martell, also known as the Red Viper, who is out to avenge the death of his sister, is fighting on behalf of Tyrion, which means if he wins the fight, Tyrion will be cleared of the charges.

Pascal vividly recalls filming the scene leading up to the fight, when his character first volunteers to be Tyrion's "champion" - it was shot on his very first day on set.

"It was particularly exciting for a first day on set and I was quite nervous about it. But working with Peter (Dinklage) turned out to be a relaxing as well as exciting experience. He's a very generous and inviting actor and one of the best people I've worked with.

"Very soon, it became two actors on equal ground working with each other. Seeing that episode for the first time last week, all the memories just came back to me, because it represented the beginning of my journey on the show."

The ride so far, Pascal says, has been "one of the most exciting experiences".

"Everyone on the show treated me like family from day one. It's a large family of amazing actors who care so much about what they do. The experience has been nothing but welcoming. This is something I'll never forget."

There was some initial backlash at the casting of such a little-known actor in the role of Martell, who is popular with readers of the George R.R. Martin books on which the show is based.

But Pascal, primarily a stage actor who had guested on TV series such as The Good Wife and The Mentalist, has won over audiences with his enigmatic portrayal which comes complete with a sexy Spanish accent "modelled after my dad's".

He has even been embraced as the show's new heart-throb.

The actor, who is dating actress Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum, 2012), says he is not used to the attention he is getting from strangers on the street.

"When I'm walking home and riding the trains of New York, the way I've been doing for the past 20 years of my life, strangers would look at me and give me a bright smile and a thumbs-up. Sometimes, they approach me and are complimentary. So far, it's just been a pleasure. I'm having a lot of fun."

Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

Game Of Thrones Season 4 returns on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601) on June 8 at 10pm.

This article was first published on May 28, 2014.
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