Pedro Pascal could have got his big break a good decade earlier than he did - but selfishly, I’m glad he didn’t.

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The actor, now known worldwide for his role as Din Djarin in The Mandalorian and currently giving what could be described as the performance of a lifetime in HBO’s The Last of Us, certainly had the talent, the work ethic, and the charisma to succeed long before he did.

Had that happened though, the stars might not have aligned to have him be cast in The Last of Us and The Mandalorian.

Watching him travel the galaxy as part of the Star Wars franchise, and win over even the most sceptical fans of the wildly popular video game with his portrayal of grief-stricken father Joel alongside Bella Ramsey’s Ellie has made me certain that these were the roles made for him and the ones that were meant to show him off to the world.

But it wasn’t the easiest journey.

Since watching the first episode of The Last of Us, many fans have delved into Pascal’s filmography, realising they know him better than they thought they did.

In 1999, a fresh-faced Pascal appeared in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Eddie the Freshman, befriending Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy Summers.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us.
Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us. Liane Hentscher/HBO

While poor Eddie wasn’t long for this world (he got turned into a vampire shortly after meeting Buffy, and she quickly drove a stake through him), fans have taken to social media to lament Pascal not getting a bigger role in the show.

From 1996, when he took on his first role in a short film, to 2013, he hustled in similar small roles, from various characters in Law & Order to The Good Wife and Homeland.

It wasn’t until 2014, with the release of season 4 of Game of Thrones, that the world started really paying attention to Pedro Pascal.

He starred as the forceful Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, and, while it had plenty of fans obsessed with him, it only scratched the surface of what he can do.

With a few more starring roles under his belt, including in the sci-fi film Prospect, he was announced as The Mandalorian in November 2018.

Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell and Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand in Game Of Thrones
Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell and Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones. Home Box Office

As his first high-profile foray into sci-fi heroism, it wasn’t exactly an easy task.

Pascal wasn’t physically in the Mandalorian armour for much of season 1, instead giving most of his performance purely through voice recording.

While his schedule allowed him to physically play the character more for season 2, he was still incredibly limited in his performance, with Djarin only taking off his helmet twice so far during the show’s whole run. But that was something he embraced.

He told EW in 2020: "The biggest challenge in playing Mando in season 2 is still the obvious, in that, how to in subtle ways, be it through vocal intonation or physical stillness/posture, large movements, small movements, to dramatically convey a scene and keep the character compelling because he is economical anyway, much less being armored from the tips of his toes to the top of his head."

The actor added: "It is a physical challenge that is met creatively in terms of how technically you can achieve that. It will always be particularly unique in that regard."

Somehow, Pascal managed to make the masked Mandalorian one of the most beloved characters in the franchise, alongside the adorable Grogu, AKA Baby Yoda.

In 2021, he was announced as Joel in The Last of Us and, even with such a huge show to his name, there was still a spot of backlash surrounding the casting. Although Ramsey faced the brunt of it, Pascal still had to deal with avid fans of the game that knew the character inside out and insisted he wasn’t the right choice. But that was short-lived.

The Mandalorian season 2
Pedro Pascal as Mando in The Mandalorian. Disney

Two episodes in, the criticism has been all but completely silenced.

The 82-minute premiere showed the actor at his very best as Joel faced the death of his daughter, the collapse of the world as he knew it, and took on the seemingly impossible task of transporting Ellie across the US.

Without spoiling anything, Pascal’s performance never falters throughout the nine episodes.

Of course, he likely has much more to do and, with any luck, will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

But those two career-defining performances, which could have set up another actor to fail spectacularly, saw Pascal thrive under the pressure, win over hordes of fans and secure his place among the sci-fi greats.

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Where the universe will take him next is yet to be confirmed. I’d bet he’ll continue his sci-fi streak with at least one more incredible performance - after all, he is a huge fan of the genre.

But if one thing’s certain, it’s only the start.

The Last of Us is available on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW, with an Entertainment Membership for just £9.99.

Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on this week.

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