When Chilean actor Pedro Pascal was cast to play the beloved “Game of Thrones” character Oberyn Martell (known to fans as the Red Viper), some people who had interpreted the character as being of a different skin color were offended by the seeming change in his ethnicity. However, it turns out they were just misinformed in their reading of Oberyn. Author George R.R. Martin has come forward to defend Pascal’s casting and explain why it’s going to be spot-on.
“I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading,” Martin writes in a comment on his blog. “And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.”
He continues, “I do know that David and Dan and HBO do favor having a racially and ethnically diverse cast on the series. It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels (Chataya and Alayaya, Jalabhar Xho, Strong Belwas), but to balance that, characters like Salladhor Saan and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, both white in the books, have been played by black actors. Missandei as well, though in the books the Naathi are golden-skinned, not white.
“As for the Dornishmen, well, though by and large I reject one to one analogies, I’ve always pictured the ‘salty Dornish’ as being more Mediterranean than African in appearance; Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, etc,” Martin adds. “Dark hair and eyes, olive skin. Pedro Pascal is Chilean. (Check out Amok’s version of the Red Viper, that’s how I saw him. Or Magali Villenueve’s beautiful and sexy portrait of Princess Arianne).”
There’s a chance that Oberyn’s many offspring will be introduced on the show, in which case fans are looking at an even more diverse side of the Martell line.
“When and if the show introduces Prince Oberyn’s daughters, the Sand Snakes, I expect we will see the same diversity as in the books, ranging from Tyene (blond and blue-eyed) to Sarella (light brown skin, as her mother was a Summer Islander),” Martin teases. “And I expect that the crew of the CINNAMON WIND will all be cast with black actors… assuming, of course, that Sam’s voyage remains in the story.”
“Game of Thrones” returns to HBO with Season 4 in Spring 2014.