By Josh Wigler
It’s official: the Red Viper of Dorne is coming to “Game of Thrones.”
The HBO fantasy epic has cast Chilean actor Pedro Pascal as Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, better known as the vengeful Red Viper. He’s one of the most anticipated new characters for fans of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels written by George R.R. Martin, and is a crucial player in the show’s upcoming events.
The Red Viper hails from Dorne, the southernmost region of Westeros. He is the brother of Elia Targaryen, the late wife of late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. She and her children were brutally murdered by Gregor Clegane, “The Mountain,” during Robert Baratheon and the Lannisters’ successful rebellion against the Mad King Aerys. As such, Oberyn harbors a deep-seated grudge against all of the Lannisters, the Mountain most especially.
“This was a tough one,” showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss tell Entertainment Weekly about casting Pascal as Oberyn. “The Red Viper is sexy and charming, yet believably dangerous; intensely likable, yet driven by hate. The boys love him, the girls love him, and he loves them all back. Unless your last name is Lannister. We found a fellow who can handle the job description and make it seem effortless. He wasn’t easy to find and he won’t be easy to stop.”
Pascal is a relatively unknown actor, having appeared on television shows such as “The Good Wife,” “Red Widow” and “Graceland.” He has some tough expectations to live up to, as Benioff and Weiss make clear: Oberyn is one of the most beloved characters in all of the “Ice and Fire” books, with genre-friendly actors like Naveen Andrews and Oded Fehr often cited as perfect fits for the role. Instead, Oberyn has gone to an unknown. Here’s hoping Mr. Pascal is up for the challenge.