The Last of Us TV series headed to HBO has found its leads. The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal will play main character Joel, while Game of Thrones breakout Bella Ramsey will play Ellie, a teenage girl Joel is protecting. The show is based on the popular, bleak video game set in a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by “hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated fungus.” Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin is writing the script with game writer Neil Druckmann. Beanpole helmer Kantemir Balagov is directing the pilot.
This news comes to us from two different sources. Deadline broke the news that Pedro Pascal will star in the series as Joel, “a hardened survivor” who is “tormented by past trauma and failure.” The story is set twenty years after the collapse of civilization, and Joel is hired to “smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.” Rumors had been circulating that Mahershala Ali was set to play Joel, but it was later confirmed that while Ali had considered the part, a deal never came together. Hours later it was confirmed that Pascal would be playing the role.
As for Ellie, THR reports that Game of Thrones actress Bella Ramsey is playing that part, described as “a 14-year-old orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet who struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging … as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world.” Ramsey earned praise for her work as Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones. Pascal was on Thrones, too, although he and Ramsey appeared in different seasons.
The Last of Us game was released in 2013, and resulted in a huge hit that earned high praise. It became one of the best-selling video games in recent years, selling over 1.3 million units in its first week and 17 million by April 2018. It’s also often cited as a very bleak, depressing game, so you should probably expect the TV series to follow suit. In 2020, The Last of Us Part II was released, and by all accounts, it was even more upsetting and stark.
I’ve not played either game, but I’m a fan of Pascal and I thought Chernobyl was excellent. It was also a very hard show to watch, so writer Craig Mazin might have the market cornered there on must-see-TV that also makes you kind of miserable. On top of that, this will now be the second show where Pedro Pascal is protecting a child. So it goes. The Last of Us will come to HBO via Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and game developer Naughty Dog.
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