Following last week’s casting of Pedro Pascal in the fan-favorite role of the Red Viper, there was much debate among fans. Over on his livejournal blog today, responding to a fan’s question, George R.R. Martin had this to say about the choice of the actor, his audition, and about the ethnicity and racial makeup of several other characters in the series.
I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. 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.
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. 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).
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). And I expect that the crew of the CINNAMON WIND will all be cast with black actors…
Ours is the Fury: It’s great that Martin clarified some of the characters’ descriptions that have been debated. I have for instance seen it argued that Belwas is merely tanned and not black. He’s now confirmed that Missandei and the Naathi are indeed not white. As for Oberyn Martell- the statement “Dark hair and eyes, olive skin. Pedro Pascal is Chilean,” doesn’t really make sense since there are people of all skin, hair and eyes colors in Chile. However, if Pascal fits Martin’s vision of the Red Viper, then that’s hard to argue with. It’s great that everyone is so enthusiastic about Pascal’s audition as well, since the fandom is very attached to this character.