Gen Z’s obsession with celebrities has launched Pedro Pascal into stardom in a rather unique way. The 47-year-old star of HBO Max’s latest drama “The Last of Us” has been acting for a long time, but his most recent tenures as Oberyn Martell on “Game of Thrones” and Din Djarin (aka Mando) on Disney+’s hit show “The Mandalorian,” have made him an undeniable staple of the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Pascal’s talent and unmistakable charm have captivated fans so much that content creators have taken to splicing together clips from his various projects to highlight his attractiveness.
TikTok user @dvcree posted perhaps the most famous edit of the actor, which went on to circulate around the internet and inundate millions of FYPs. Published on Jan. 20, 2023, @dvcree’s video is the unofficial official Pedro Pascal edit; it amassed an astounding 2.6 million likes and 20.4 million views as of Feb. 14, 2023. The edit features a series of clips from the 2017 movie “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” in which Pascal plays Agent Whiskey, set to Shaggy’s song “Hey Sexy Lady.” As the edit begins, Agent Whiskey approaches Halle Berry’s character Ginger, asking her “How’d you like to ride home on a real cowboy” before assuring her that his roommates will be gone for the night so, “You can scream my name as loud as you need to, sugar.” Naturally, these clips sent young people everywhere giggling into their pillows and kicking their feet in the air with glee. It then transitions into various flashing images of Pascal in a cowboy hat, his swoon-worthy grin dazzling the camera.
This edit has gained so much traction online that another TikTok user @jennifer_isnt_my_name created a video documenting the parallel between the edit and Pascal’s newfound rise in popularity. Using Google Trends, she charts the relationship between different search terms related to Pascal, including the actor’s name, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “The Mandalorian,” pointing out that there is a dramatic spike in the graph representing searches of Pascal’s name after Feb. 5, 2023, a few days following@dvcree’s edit. In contrast, the trends for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “The Mandalorian” remain relatively stagnant throughout time and fail to correspond to any significant increases on the Pascal graph.
While she concludes in this initial video that @dvcree is responsible for the sudden increase in people scouring Google for more Pedro Pascal content, people in her comments were quick to notice that she didn’t account for two other events that potentially contributed to this phenomenon: “The Last of Us” premiere (and subsequent episodes) and Pascal’s “SNL” debut. @jennifer_isnt_my_name addressed these concerns in a later video, but many of Pascals fans suggested that @dvcree’s edit remains culturally relevant after the actor starred in an “SNL” sketch as a confused teacher pleading with his students to stop making “fan cams” of him — a reference to the countless edits proliferating online.
But what about Pascal makes him so appealing to younger audiences, especially when he’s at least twenty years older than the oldest members of Gen Z? What has led to him being crowned, as one article puts it, the “daddy of the moment”? One answer could lie in the fact that Pascal is a man of surprising contradictions that align him with some of the generation’s most fundamental values. As a Chilean-American, he has expressed his early struggle to understand his dual identity. When he was a child, his family was forced to flee Chile due to Augusto Pinochet’s oppressive regime, landing first in Denmark before ultimately moving to the United States. It wasn’t until he was around 8 years old that he and his family finally returned to Chile to visit the relatives that they had to leave behind.
Perhaps this formative experience is the reason Pascal is so prepared to affirm others in their own searches for identity. Two years ago, after his younger sister, Lux Pascal, came out as a transgender woman, he publicly showed his support for her in an Instagram post that included a caption in which he called her “mi corazón,” or“my heart.” Furthermore, Pascal is a big proponent of using preferred pronouns — a movement spearheaded by Gen Z — and his own pronouns are displayed in his Instagram bio. When his “Mandalorian” co-star Gina Carano faced criticism for using the words “beep, bop, boop” in her Twitter in place of actual pronouns, she credited Pascal for teaching her the importance of respecting others’ pronouns.
He also continuously proves himself to be a genuine person despite all of the hype surrounding his thriving career. In an interview with Vanity Fair as part of the magazine’s “Lie Detector” series, Pascal concedes that he is a heartthrob, and later falls apart laughing after failing to give the interviewer his sexiest look. When asked if he ever looks at fan accounts when feeling down, the actor admitted that he does before cracking up again. His fame and dedication to his craft haven’t caused him to take himself too seriously, which many young people may find refreshing in a digital era where people are expected to consistently project well-curated images of themselves.
Whatever the case may be for Gen Z’s sudden infatuation with Pascal, be it his talent, sex symbol status or something else altogether, it’s clear that he represents a type of celebrity that younger generations are increasingly interested in. In a world where young people’s mental health is suffering due to unrealistic expectations set by celebrities and influencers, Pascal provides a hopeful light of authenticity.
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