Few people ever get the opportunity to work alongside their heroes. But for Pedro Pascal, that dream became a reality courtesy of The Great Wall. The 41-year old from Chile explained to Collider that director Zhang Yimou has been an inspiration for him from his earliest years, often skipping out on social events to see his films by himself.
The actor has enjoyed a fruitful period of late, scoring a big break in the hit television series Game of Thrones before suiting up again as an undercover cop for the Netflix program Narcos. Yet this experience has surpassed everything that has come before for Pascal, as he details the grand scale that it The Great Wall.
United Nations Behind The Scenes
Utilizing thousands of extras across an enormous landscape, Pascal outlined that the magnitude of events was something to behold.
"We had the best grip, the best prop department from all over the world," he argued. "We had an incredible crew. It was a large Chinese crew (but) we had people from South Africa, from New Zealand, from Europe, Australia, North America. These are men and women that are going to war to make a movie of this size so it turns out to be the best possible experience for someone like me, I guess. for me it was nothing but an adventure."
Set to feature in the action sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Pascal detailed his obsession with Chinese movies during his developing years, a passion that would pay off handsomely in 2016.
"So we lived in Orange Country, California and there was one little arthouse movie theater and my parents would go," started Pascal. "They would take us and introduce us to foreign cinema kind of early and I got pretty addicted. After Raise the Red Lantern, I would go into like the local VHS video store - I found Red Sorghum, I found Ju Dou, I went and saw (The Story of) Qui Ju in the same theater by myself because I had so many friends. I was 14. They were surfing and I was watching Chinese cinema."
Letter On Par With A Golden Trophy For Pedro
Enjoying a laugh with the interviewer, Pascal agreed that his love affair with Chinese cinema worked out in the end.
"You're right", he admitted. "He had no idea before I was cast which was interesting - he being Zhang Yimou the director - and I felt like I had to confess because it would be really stupid if I went there and tried to play it cool. Like I didn't know exactly what was happening to me and to my life. You know like, working with an idol. So I emailed him or his assistant that translated and when I got to Beijing to start rehearsals and to start shooting the movie, someone gave my an envelope. It was this beautifully handwritten in Chinese characters letter from Zhang Yimou expressing his gratitude and excitement to work together. It's the most generous thing anyone has ever done for me."
Yet there is a part of the actor who thinks that the director might not see his passion or generosity for his work as genuine.
"For it to come from someone whose work - I still feel like he doesn't really get it, like he probably thinks I'm just kissing his butt, you know? But honestly. I saw Shanghai Triad four times at the Angelika Film Center in New York City because I saw it very early in it's release and kept taking people to go and see it, and because of how much I loved the movie."
Did Pascal frame the letter in the end?
"Yeah it's framed," he remarked, "and it's in my bedroom. It's like three pieces - I held onto that thing and for like five months in China I held onto that thing so I could bring it back here and frame it and put it on my wall."