Pedro Pascal has been a bonafide Hollywood star for years now, harking back to his earlier stints on shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Narcos.” But that has only been elevated this year, given his widely acclaimed turns on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” and HBO’s “The Last of Us” — not to mention his magnificent hosting performance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this season. With three potential categories for Pascal to shine, it would be unfathomable to imagine an Emmy acting lineup without the inclusion of the Chilean superstar.
Three wildly different Pascal performances are available for the Television Academy to consider.
With “The Last of Us,” an adaptation of the popular videogame series, Pascal stars as Joel Miller, a hardened survivor of a global pandemic that finds a vulnerability in 14-year-old Ellie (played remarkably by lead actress drama candidate Bella Ramsey). A genre show that allows Pascal to internalize his emotions, and rely on his physical mannerisms to create a three-dimensional character, “The Last of Us” is simply breathtaking. Quite possibly Pascal’s best career performance yet, the Craig Mazin-created dystopian drama was also a massive hit for HBO and one of the network’s most-watched shows of the year.
In addition, there’s a potential history-making factor that comes with voting for Pascal in lead drama actor on the ballot. If named one of the six nominees, Pascal would be only the second Latino ever recognized in the category, after four-time nominee Jimmy Smits (for the classic ’90s drama “NYPD Blue”). Smits never won.
After Lee Jung-jae from “Squid Game” made history last year as the first Asian actor to win in that category, more representation is something we should celebrate and highlight when awards bodies have worthy candidates in their grasp. “The Last of Us” will face off with four other major drama players from HBO (also pushing “Succession,” “The White Lotus” and “House of the Dragon”), but Pascal has another potential competitor in the same category: Himself.
Pascal’s work as the titular character “The Mandalorian,” now in its third season, could siphon some critical votes. It can be argued Pascal was a near miss for a nomination in the show’s first two seasons. Although several artisans have been recognized for the franchise, the man behind the helmet has been not been able to clear that hurdle.
Noteworthy is Pascal isn’t the only Latino acting possibility in the race. Diego Luna, his “Star Wars” franchise counterpart, is also vying for attention with the spinoff series “Andor.”
And then there are the funny parts of Pascal’s year.
Taking the stage of Studio 8H, Pascal hosted the Feb. 4 episode of the long-running NBC sketch show “Saturday Night Live.” From his hilarious monologue to the moments he broke character (including Ego Nwodim’s steak-cutting table spillage), Pascal is the clear standout of all hosts in the 48th season so far. Others with standout host stints on “SNL” this season include Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce and Quinta Brunson (also a multiple nom possibility as creator, writer and star of “Abbott Elementary”). Hopefully, a mention in guest comedy actor will bring the world closer to the genius “Mario Kart” adaptation the show cooked up.
All this talent isn’t new for those paying attention to Pascal’s work for more than a decade. Aside from his eye-losing Oberyn in “Game of Thrones,” he was the best part of shows like “Narcos,” films like “Wonder Woman 1984” and is fresh off what should have been his first Oscar-nominated performance in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.”
With Emmy in his sights, Pascal is getting ready to give the people more of what they want…more Pedro. On Pascal’s docket are upcoming roles in the Nadia Conners comedy “The Uninvited” (with Walton Goggins), Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s upcoming drama “Freaky Tales” and the new short film from Pedro Almodóvar, “Strange Way of Life” (opposite Ethan Hawke), rumored to be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.
Pedro Pascal’s moment is here, Emmy voters. Don’t mess it up.
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