Is Pedro Pascal The Greatest TV Actor Of The Last Decade?

We’re one episode in to The Last of Us but if the rest of the season is anything like the pilot then that show will surely go down as an instant classic. Aside from the premiere, Sunday also dropped the first trailer for season three of The Mandalorian and I’m fully prepared to nerd out over that when the time comes. But it got me thinking that Pedro Pascal is about to become a weekly part of my life from now until May. That’s a lot of Pascal but I dig it.

His career has been fascinating to watch. Ever since I first saw him on Game of Thrones I’ve seen him grow into a legitimate leading man in three amazing series, and yes, I understand it’s been one episode of The Last of Us. Following his brief tenure on Thrones, Pascal co-led the Pablo Escobar drama Narcos on Netflix. I feel like that show almost never gets mentioned when talking about the great shows of the 2010’s but it was seriously that good, in large part due to the dynamic between Pascal and Boyd Holbrook. Then of course, there’s The Mandalorian. The first season I would argue is perhaps the greatest piece of Star Wars content we’ve gotten since the original trilogy.

Pascal’s work on TV primarily has focused on playing somewhere between heroes and anti-heroes. He always plays a protagonist and does so with a commanding, yet calm, demeanor. His role as Oberyn Martell is probably the most colorful performance we’ve seen from him on TV but even that was fairly reserved, even if it led to one of the most gruesome deaths in TV history. He certainly had more to do in three seasons of Narcos but that was more of a cops and robbers ensemble where the bad guys got the bulk of the best content. But The Mandalorian and The Last of Us are clearly his shows. He’s not just a pretty face or a gun for hire, he’s showed a tremendous amount of range in both shows and anyone who has seen his film work like Wonder Woman: 1984 and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent knows that range is still barely scratching the surface.

So since 2013, who has had a better run on TV? It’s hard to find someone who has been so heavily involved in as many great projects as he has. Bryan Cranston had the end of Breaking Bad and is currently on Showtime’s Your Honor (haven’t seen it) and despite some cameos in Better Call Saul and Curb Your Enthusiasm the bulk of his work has been in film. His co-star Aaron Paul has had a good run too. Like Cranston he wrapped up Breaking Bad and appeared in Better Call Saul but also has had key roles on Westworld, The Path, and Bojack Horseman. By the time he joined the Westworld cast in the season three, that show had pretty much gone off the rails. Jon Hamm wrapped up Mad Men and has made various appearances on other shows like Unbreakable Kimmi Schmidt and Saturday Night Live but his career nowadays is more film and cameo focused. How about Billy Bob Thornton? He’s had a pretty good run with a memorable season of Fargo and four seasons of Goliath, though the latter has never really taken off with the masses. Kevin Costner has Yellowstone but he’s Kevin Costner for goodness sake. Bob Odenkirk? Maybe but he’s been playing the same character for the bulk of that time even if he has other notable credits like Fargo and Undone. The list of potential others knows no limits. Sterling K. Brown, Andy Samberg, Jeremy Strong, Bill Hader, Matthew Rhys, Jason Bateman, Steve Carell. Looking at actresses there’s plenty of good options as well: Elisabeth Moss, Sandra Oh, Reese Witherspoon, Jean Smart, and of course, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. All worthy candidates but none of them have had quite the reach that Pascal has in terms of both quality and quantity of different shows.

Pascal isn’t one to rack up award nominations, he’s never been nominated for an Emmy or a Golden Globe but I would have to guess that will change next year after The Last of Us starts making the rounds. But that’s not the issue because he’s consistently been on one of, if not the, most entertaining TV show on the air for the last decade or so. The man simply puts asses on couches.

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