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Photo Courtsey of Lionsgate

Acting Up: Pedro Pascal


The Snapshot:

Pedro Pascal plays a dangerous superfan who pays $1M to spend time with Hollywood actor Nic Cage in the bromantic comedy, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

(The film premiered April 22nd in theaters nationwide.)

 

The Performance:

There’s a long history of Hollywood celebrities making appearances for eye-popping sums of money. That’s why when Spanish superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) offers actor Nicolas Cage $1M to appear at his birthday party in Mallorca, Spain, art imitates life all over again.

In a Hollywood film premise like no other, Cage — who plays many versions of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — reluctantly accepts the invite to pay off some financial debts, before begrudgingly making it to Spain where his sold soul is sadly on display. At first.

However, it’s not long before Cage and Javi bond in ways that are as entertaining as they are… enviable? These men have more in common than they thought and while on acid, realize they share a bond over life, old movies, and rather comically, the merits of the film Paddington 2.

The brewing bromance is real and kind of sweet. So much so that when we learn the darker side of Javi’s family business, there’s a twinge of despair that this budding friendship might not work out. It should be said that through it all, Pascal nails a perfect tone with his portrayal of Javi in this cleverly conceived film from writer/director Tom Gormican. Javi’s boyish enthusiasm for his film hero — and thorough knowledge of the Nic Cage oeuvre — quickly morphs from “obsessed fan” into compassionate compadre to the troubled actor. And when Cage realizes Javi has actually sent a script he wrote to Cage’s agent (the ever-dry Neil Patrick Harris), the two embark on developing the film together, a plot point that gets played out well to comical effect.

But Nick and Javi’s relationship goals get, uh, complicated when — minor spoiler alert — the CIA approaches Cage for help. It’s when we don’t know if Javi knows about Cage’s conflict that we see Pascal’s ability to personify unpredictability in new ways. Is he a crazed fan, or just crazy?

As Javi’s inner struggle mounts, Pascal is a joy to watch. He skillfully shows us how he can shift his mood from boyish charm and to terrifying as tense scenes play out over skeet shooting and the treacherous mountain bluffs of Mallorca. It’s all highly amusing, of course, and the kind of role that proves Pascal — who’s done way more dramatic work than comedy (Narcos and The Mandalorian) — has more range and maybe even a brighter future ahead than any of us knew.

 

The Career:

Born in Chile to a family with socialist political ties, Pascal’s family escaped to the States as refugees when he was very young, living mostly in Texas and Orange County, California.

After graduating from the Orange County School of the Arts in 1993 and eventually NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1997, Pascal started bouncing around eventually doing TV guest stars on shows such as The Good Wife (2009), Law & Order: SVU (2011), and Homeland (2013).

That was when he got “the role” that changed everything.

Like many actors who passed through the Game of Thrones world, the 47-year-old Pascal’s career got a boost from GOT when he starred as Prince Oberyn Martell in season four (2013). It was a highly memorable part that came to a head during a grisly scene involving an epic fight with Gregor Clegane over Tyrion Lannister’s fate. (Quick refresher: It does not go well for him.)

From there, the Chilean-American actor started getting juicier roles in TV and film. Most notably, as DEA agent Javier Peña for three seasons in the Netflix series Narcos (2015-2017) —– and the title role he voices and plays in Disney+’s Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian (2019-2022). You might also remember Pascal as diabolical (Wonder) woman hater Maxwell Lord in perhaps the biggest film to drop early pandemic, Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).

With The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent marking a departure from the tone of much of Pascal’s previous work, we could see Pascal doing more work in the comedy genre. Just not yet — as Pascal will next appear in the HBO adaptation The Last of Us (2023) playing a “man forced to endure brutal circumstances and ruthless killers on a trek across post-pandemic America.”

For now, we’ll just have to savor Pascal’s Javi and his crazy obsession with a Hollywood legend.

 

Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.