Pedro Pascal talks latest gaming venture, says he's being 'actively ignorant' to reactions over 'Last of Us' finale

The red-hot actor filmed three promos for the popular mobile app game "Merge Mansion."

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 28: Pedro Pascal attends the Pedro Pascal, Ashley Benson and Jesse Williams Play Detective in Merge Mansion Mobile Game Event on March 28, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Metacore/Merge Mansion)

Warning: The Last of Us spoilers ahead.

Pedro Pascal insists that he finds time to relax.

“Nothing is as it appears,” he says before pointing to a small group of people across the room. It’s his team: a publicist or two, probably a stylist, a groomer, maybe an assistant. “You can ask some of the people here. They all work harder than I do, I'll tell you that much. Everyone around me seems to do way more and be way more productive than myself. So what a wonderful illusion I've created for everybody.”

At the moment, the red-hot 47-year-old Chilean actor burning up television on The Last of Us, The Mandalorian and Saturday Night Live in recent weeks is sitting in a fittingly throne-like antique chair in an old mansion in the hills of Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood. He’s here to take a tour of an interactive escape room experience, pose for photos and do a few interviews for his latest venture: the popular mobile app mystery Merge Mansion.

“I love a good mystery, to be honest with you,” Pascal tells us. “And you feel immersed into an experience when you play the game.”

Pascal does not appear within the app itself, an animated puzzle game in which a young woman named Maddie attempts to uncover secrets her wealthy Grandma Ursula is hiding.

But Merge became so popular (and profitable, generating a reported $38 million-plus in 2021) that it’s expanded into live-action ads expanding the universe.

Pascal taped three such promos in Lisbon, Portugal. He plays a detective named Tim Rockford, determined to sleuth out the mysteries (and perhaps crimes?) of Ursula. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” says the actor. “There are so many different things that are emerging. At least for me. I haven't really been in the know… But I guess I'm just drawn to things that I feel like I would enjoy.”

The actor’s passionate and ever-growing fan army has flooded the comment sections for the YouTube spots, many fantasizing about a full-blown Tim Rockford series. “It has not come up, but anything is possible,” Pascal says, laughing.

Another thing Pascal is not in the know about: reactions to the season finale of HBO’s buzzed-about dystopian hit The Last of Us, his other recent gaming-adjacent endeavor.

Pascal’s co-star Bella Ramsey predicted to British Vogue earlier this month that Season 1’s ending would “divide people massively,” before emphasizing “massively.”

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in 'The Last of Us' (HBO)
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the Season 1 finale of The Last of Us. (Photo: HBO)

She wasn’t wrong. The climactic decision made by Pascal’s Joel to save Ramsey’s Ellie, the surrogate child he’s protected, over the rest of humanity, has drawn both praise and some heated reactions.

“I feel protected from what the conversation is in a way,” Pascal says. “And I think that personally I haven't really been ready for it to sort of be over, so I've kept my distance from its finale in a way. It hasn't intruded upon my experience in terms of what people's opinions for or against are, in terms of a very specific decision the character makes. I guess I'm actively being ignorant about how everyone feels about it, but it hasn't been too hard to be, if that makes any sense. No one's yelled at me in the street. Or been like, ‘How could you do that?’”

Star Wars fans, of course, have strong opinions, too, which no doubt the Mandalorian lead has heard through three seasons. This is also a man that had a memorable run on Game of Thrones, so dealing with (or actively ignoring) the chatter is hardly new for him.

“I can't help but be curious,” says the actor, who will soon head to Cannes, where Pedro Almodóvar’s queer Western short film Strange Way of Life pairing Pascal and Ethan Hawke, will premiere.

“And I love if the project that everyone has worked so hard on is getting positive attention and is being seen and people are enjoying it, and people are talking about it. I love all of that very, very much. But there are things I guess you end up feeling protective about with all the work that you do and the experience that you had doing it. And so if there is any kind of mixed emotions about it, I don't really look too hard to find them.”