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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ both celebrates and warns, says actor Pedro Pascal

Still of Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’   | Photo Credit: Clay Enos / 2020 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

Pedro Pascal is a bit of a charmer, the kind that can switch to a deeply pensive mood in a split second. During a video call with the actor who plays the megalomaniac supervillain, Maxwell Lord, in DC Extended Universe’s Wonder Woman 1984, his easy-going nature says anything but. He’s dressed in a burgundy sweater — Fendi, of course — which is a departure from Lord’s ever-sharp suits. The Patty Jenkins-directed movie is set to release in theatres on December 25, and Pascal is geared up to meet a whole new set of fans.

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The Chilean actor who has lived in New York City for more than 20 years is no stranger to the world of fandoms, playing the eponymous character in Disney’s The Mandalorian. And, of course, who could forget his portrayal of Javier Peña in Narcos and Oberyn Martell in Game Of Thrones?

Pedro Pascal attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

Pedro Pascal attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.   | Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil/AFP

The allure of playing the businessman in WW84 was always there, says Pascal. “I think we are afraid to admit we have something — that unfillable shadow in our hearts — in common with someone like Maxwell Lord. I couldn’t believe how incredible an opportunity this was as the ‘villain’ in this film. To have that common understanding with Patty was a profound experience,” he adds. In fact, while prepping to play Lord, Pascal turned the script into a “pop-art scrapbook” as a means to get into the character’s mind. This ‘scrapbook’ was filled with vicarious speech bubbles of self-inflicted curses to reflect the character’s complex internal landscape. As a result, the actor was re-energised to tackle Lord each time Jenkins called ‘action!’

Part of Lord’s appeal are his magnetic smiles during the ‘you-can-do-it infomercials’ for Black Gold Cooperative, which are an interesting parallel to the current times of information overload, he agrees.

Much of it adds to the film’s contemporary setting, during the tech and arts boom of the ‘80s. “I can’t say that that was the intention of the movie to reflect the circumstance we are all in. The ‘80s was a point where we crossed over and gave ourselves permission to accept excess with achievement, in an individualistic unilateral way. That individualism, not in terms of character or art, but in terms of achievement, is such a fascinating and chilling way of villainising a part of that era.”

Connect with the times

He explains the pull to Lord and WW84 did lie in the duality, especially since most audiences celebrate the nostalgia of a bygone era through shows like Stranger Things, and the likes. Pascal — who grew up being obsessed with ‘80s trademark soundtrack ‘Little Red Corvette’ by Prince for its approach to the “magic of attraction and edge” — says he “absorbed, like a sponge, much of the joy and nostalgia of ‘80s America”.

The 45 year-old adds, “It shaped so much of who I am and the independence of my thought, and the voraciousness of my desire. WW84 both celebrates and warns — it’s a completely mixed bag and isn’t narrow with the way it utilises the era... because it is super cute and emotional to experience the warmth of that nostalgia, and also unpredictable for when it rears its ugly head.”

Still of Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

Still of Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’   | Photo Credit: 2020 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

Pascal looks back at his experience with respect and adoration, thanks to Jenkins. With all the characters facing off each other through the film, he agrees there is a wholeness to Jenkins’ storytelling. He commends her for using “familiar tropes that are essential” as a vehicle to make it “emotionally unpredictable” for audiences with regard to anticipating how characters may interact, whether it is dialogue or fight scenes.

He elaborates, “This kind of unpredictably in a film is a rare thing. I attribute this to Patty, to the kind of actor that Gal Gadot is and the kind of warmth and generosity she has. I feel these from Chris Pine and Kristen as well, and it’s all very inviting for everyone involved to participate in equal measures. It was so amazing!”

From the taste of Lord offered in the trailer, audiences are ready to see just how dark the character can be potentially. Ask Pascal what it was like to transition out of these scenes, and he smiles, “If you are given a safe environment and permission to go ‘there’, there isn’t really a limit to what you are willing to do. And after you do go there and once you have a safe place to land, it was nourishing. To drain yourself in a creative way, it wasn’t necessarily related to a physicality or intense action sequence… or an uncomfortable costume [laughs].”

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 7:08:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/pedro-pascal-interview-maxwell-lord-wonder-woman-1984-ww84/article33362064.ece

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