(Spoiler Alert: This story contains major plot details and reaction to “Game of Thrones” Season 4, Episode 8, “The Mountain and The Viper.” If you haven’t seen Sunday’s episode, bookmark this page to come back to after you’ve watched.)
The saying “Valar Morghulis” came true again on Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones,” when Season 4’s most captivating new character – Pedro Pascal’s Prince Oberyn Martell – battled to the death in the arena as Tyrion Lannister’s champion.
Oberyn lived his “GoT” life both fearlessly and loyally, and he took both traits into the ring when he faced off against The Mountain — and ended up losing his life.
Pedro also employed those traits in his performance as Oberyn. As a loyal fan of the books and the HBO show, Pedro felt a sense of responsibility to get Oberyn right as he stepped into the Prince’s shoes earlier this season with fearlessness, swaggering into brothel scenes, slicing up a Lannister soldier or two and trading insults with some of King’s Landing’s most feared characters (like at Joffrey’s wedding with Tywin and Cersei). And the passion Pedro put into his performance, combined with his love for the show, made Oberyn’s exit that much harder.
“It’s awful. It’s heartbreaking,” Pedro told AccessHollywood.com about Oberyn’s death (which also meant Tyrion was given a death sentence). “I love the character. I fell in love with the character and maybe that helped me play him. The first thing that helped me identify with him was actually a love for him. I found him very delicious. I also found him very, very honorable and very progressive and just an all-around badass, not because he’s a great fighter and because he likes to f*** everything that moves, but because he has morals that I identify with. So it was always very hard for me to kind of like, detach myself from my own heartbreak that the character goes out the way that he goes out.”
Oberyn did get some justice in King’s Landing, justice that came from The Mountain confessing to the murder of his sister, Elia, and her children, in front of the nobles at King’s Landing (as The Mountain smashed Oberyn’s eyes and face in).
“I had this really interesting conversation with Lena Headey when we were on set and we were talking about the character – Oberyn’s journey — and how in the end, he ultimately does hear the words spoken aloud,” Pedro said. “And we talked about the possibility — is there a kind of release? Is there a sort of delivering himself into his own end? I mean, this is very interpretive, but it was just a really interesting and inspiring conversation that I had with her.”
It was last year that Pedro accepted the role of Season 4’s most anticipated new character, and throughout his run as Oberyn, the actor gave an impressive performance that delighted fans and critics.
“It’s very moving for me. It makes me emotional,” Pedro said of the praise he has received, so far.
“It was far more important to me to tell the story to its fullest potential,” he continued. “The goal couldn’t be to make everyone happy — I knew that, but I did see the opportunity to play a character as delicious as this. And what makes him delicious to me are not the obvious things. While the obvious things are delightful and so much fun to play, there’s so much more to him and really, that’s what [author] George R.R. Martin and [Executive Producers] David Benioff and Dan Weiss have created. It was just really important to me to fill those shoes and to not miss any of the details. And, of course, nothing is perfect, but if people like him, are seduced by him, are afraid of him, are entertained by him, are on his side – that’s what it’s all about to me, ultimately, in the end. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about like, satiating somebody’s appetite who loves the show and the book.”
And if there were to be a backstory movie or series, would he want to revisit Oberyn?
“I mean, really, do you have to ask?” Pedro laughed. “Anything to take me out of mourning.”
This summer, Pedro hits The Delacorte Theater stage in Central Park alongside Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe in “Much Ado About Nothing” (running from June 3-July 6), as part of Shakespeare in the Park.
-- Jolie Lash