Hafþor Julius Bjornsson, Pedro Pascal
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's Game of Thrones. Read at your own risk!]
Oberyn Martell tried to conquer The Mountain with mixed success.
On Sunday's Game of Thrones, the fiery Dornishman known as The Viper (Pedro Pascal) went head-to-head with the massive Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane (Hafthor Bjornsson) with a wickedly quick and acrobatic way with a spear. But just when it seems like victory is assured, Oberyn gets cocky ... and within the fallen Mountain's reach. Clegane grabs Oberyn, bashes his teeth in, gouges out his eyes and ultimately crushes his head.
Thrones' Pascal: Oberyn's challenge is a "f--- you" to the Lannisters
Pascal was aware of his character's violent fate before landing the part. "It was something I was prepared for all along, but still it is such a brutal twist in the story," he tells TVGuide.com. "There's a part of me that as a fan and watcher of this show that was never really able to get over it. There was an ever-present ache for Oberyn in my heart in the doing of it."
The implications of the fight's outcome are complex. Oberyn is dead and Dorne has lost another of its royal family, but also Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), for whom Oberyn fought as a champion, is now deemed guilty of regicide by the rules of trial by combat. Since Tyrion chose this fate over entering a plea for mercy, he will face execution.
Pascal can't offer fans much comfort, but adds, "They might be disappointed that I'm dead, but in the actual execution of that death, I hope that their expectations are totally fulfilled."
Check out Pascal's breakdown of the fight, his views on Oberyn and how he shaped how the Dornish sound on the show:
We're sad Oberyn died, but what a way to go! You also had your Inigo Montoya moment when Oberyn recites to The Mountain: "You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children." How was that to say?
Pedro Pascal: Yes, it's an homage. George R.R. Martin wrote that after [watching] The Princess Bride. This character's entire life is shaped for his lust for revenge because of the tragic rape and murder of his sister and the death of his niece and nephew. So to arrive at the moment where he's able to speak these words aloud in front of everyone is very powerful.
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Did you require special training to jump around and work with the spear?
Pascal: The production team has an incredible fight team that is headed by C.C. Smiff, the stunt coordinator for the show. They were kind enough to set me up with some training before I started shooting. In Los Angeles, I did classes with a master of wu shu martial arts, which is an acrobatic martial arts. The instructor's name is Master Hu. He showed me the basics: How to fight with a spear, how to move my weight, twists and turns. This is a style of fighting that you hadn't seen on the show before.
How long did that fight take to shoot?
Pascal: We shot that in about four or five days. Depending on the schedule, we were taught the fight and then we were put together and rehearsed extensively with one another and the fight team. First in a rehearsal space in Belfast, and also on location in Croatia. It had a few hundred extras with all of the main players from King's Landing in attendance.
We assume that a fake head had to be made for Oberyn's death scene. Was it weird for you to see it?
Pascal: I've never had a full view of myself before and was able to see myself the way that other people get to see me. I caught myself staring and realizing that I had no idea what I actually look like in life. It's very, very strange. I had this moment that I kept staring at my fake head and realizing how much I look like my dad. They did such a great job. It looks exactly like me with such detail. It was very eerie.
You didn't get to take it home as a souvenir?
Pascal: They did not give it to me, no. I would not have been able to fit it in my suitcase.
We'll miss Oberyn. Although he only lasted a season, people seem to have embraced him in that short amount of time.
Pascal: Thank you so much. After I got the part, on the way from Los Angeles to London, I was reading the third book where Oberyn is introduced. He's got a big "in," and I think it's been beautifully adapted by [showrunners] David Benioff and Dan Weiss. They've seized the opportunity to take a character as delicious as Oberyn Martell and have him interact with more characters in King's Landing and stir some sh-- up
Those extra Oberyn scenes on the show demonstrate that this guy also has a brain too. He gives some really good zingers!
Pascal: Yeah, he goes up against the most feared characters in the capital and faces them with no fear, which was an amazing experience. He really ushers in a really new element to the show. I think that has so much to do with George R.R. Martin having created this really flashy character, but like all of his characters in his books, there's a wholeness there. This show has dragons, castles, White Walkers, sex, violence. And ultimately, the thing that trumps all of that dazzling stuff is the fullness of character.
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You put your own stamp on the character with the accent you gave Oberyn. Can you discuss why you decided to give him this accent and inspired it?
Pascal: I was able to recognize in the character of Oberyn that something very "other" was being ushered into the world. I didn't think an American accent would be appropriate. I didn't want to fail miserably at a bad English accent, so I had this instinct that this character sounded like my father. I'm from Chile. I was born in Chile but I grew up in the States, and both of my parents spoke accented English. Spanish is my first language. I didn't think too hard about it. It was something I tried, and they had never asked me to change it.
Did Indira Varma, who plays Oberyn's lover Ellaria Sand, have to learn that accent also since she's also Dornish?
Pascal: Poor Indira Varma was forced into the corner of having to do an accent similar to mine. I think she does hers better. She did not need to be coached by me. She actually came with her own sound. She had a similar instinct. She came in with the perfect sound of Ellaria Sand based on what her instincts were. Nobody thwarted either of us in our attempts at foreign accents.
Both of you have influenced how the Dornish will sound on the show now.
Pascal: It is interesting, isn't it? We did get together and find common ground in terms of "What do we sound like?" And what she brought to it was so much already her own, and that's ultimately what she's doing in the series.
Did you and Indira get comfortable right away since you have so many intimate bed scenes together? Did you have a discussion beforehand?
Pascal: We were both really game. I think in an unspoken way it made it easier for both of us to jump into a scene like that together. It's such a beautiful partnership between the two characters Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand. That was something that we both understood, that the two characters experienced the world together as equals. She's as game as he is for all of their pleasure-seeking, and in some instances might even be leading the way. We didn't really discuss what it would mean to get into bed with a couple of other actors. We just had fun with it.
How is it when people recognize you now? Do they refer to you as a stud since Oberyn is?
Pascal: Nobody has yet to call me a stud unfortunately. But people have been congratulatory and really, really sweet. I've gotten smiles and a thumbs up from strangers on the subway, which really makes my day.
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When Oberyn is first introduced, there's a scene where you run your hand casually over a flame, which pretty much seals Oberyn as a bada--. Whose idea was it for him to do that?
Pascal: It was something that happened in rehearsal. I did have a very specific entrance. I was told to approach the two Lannister guards sitting at the table, and to my right I saw a flame and I passed my hand over the flame. And then David Benioff said he really liked that and let's keep it. He tried to take credit from me at one point, but I set him straight.
I read your Reddit AMA in which you talk a lot about food. Who likes food and drink more -- you or Oberyn?
Pascal: I love to eat! I'll eat basically anything. The more I learn, the more it piques my interest. I'll say we're on level playing field there.
Do you have a final message for the fans?
Pascal: I'm completely grateful that there are fans. I'm sure Oberyn is finding a way to have an even better time in the afterlife.
Will you miss Oberyn? What do you think of Tyrion's chances now?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Watch the latest episode here.