When The Last of Us was released in 2013 it quickly became nothing less than a cultural phenomenon. Gamers around the world fell for the gritty and emotional post apocalyptic tale that centered on a smuggler, Joel, and his young charge, Ellie. After seven years and lots of rumors HBO has finally announced that they’ll be adapting the award winning game into a series which will see Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin team up with The Last of Us creator and writer Neil Druckmann to bring the beloved and critically acclaimed game to the screen, and potentially the upcoming sequel too.
HBO and Sony shared an update on the series on November 20, 2020 confirming Mazin’s and Druckmann’s roles. They’ve given a series order to the drama.
If you haven’t played The Last of Us it follows Joel (Troy Baker) who is hired to help get a young girl across the post-apocalyptic landscape of the United States. The reason for this strange assignment is all very Children of Men, see it turns out that Ellie (Ashley Johnson) is immune to the infection that has wreaked havoc on the nation and she could be the key to a potential cure. Though The Last of Us is ostensibly a survival action game it was the close relationship between both the core playable characters that made The Last of Us such a runaway hit.
As huge fans of the game we have a few ideas about who the core cast could be brought to life by and now that a series is in the works we thought it was the perfect time to share them!
Joel – Oscar Isaac
After winning all our hearts as Poe Dameron we only had one choice in mind for Joel. Oscar Isaac has all the gruff heroism that the character needs, he can do action, heart, and heroics, plus he’s still to have that true leading man moment. We also have to give a notable mention to Troy Baker the prolific and talented voice actor who brought Joel to life, if HBO were willing to take a little risk it could be very cool to see him get to bring Joel to live action too.
Ellie – Dafne Keen
There was a lot of controversy around the design of Ellie in the original game as she was quite clearly based on Ellen Page, who was not involved in The Last of Us and ended up asking for an apology from the game creators. Even with that inspiration in mind, Ellie is 14 so we were thinking of young action experienced actresses who could bring a gravitas and power to the role and our minds immediately went to Dafne Keen. After her stunning debut as Laura Kinney in Logan she recently expanded her fanbase as the lead in HBO’s lauded His Dark Materials adaptation, and we’d love to see her take on the co-lead in The Last of Us.
Tommy – Pedro Pascal
Everyone’s been waiting for best buds Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal to share the screen in a truly epic fashion. We think casting Pascal as Joel’s brother Tommy could be the perfect moment. Tommy and Joel share a special bond but it’s one that is complex and often tough, outside of Ellie he is the character who knows Joel best and the only one who has a shared past with him. Pascal has the perfect rugged looks and emotional range to expand on this key character who will certainly show up in the upcoming adaptation.
Tess – Ruth Negga
Tess’ role is relatively small but completely vital in the game. It would be interesting to see it explored more in this adaptation, especially depending on the way that the creative team decides to adapt Joel’s life before he meets Ellie. Tess is Joel’s smuggling partner and isn’t afraid of doing whatever she needs to get the job done. It could be interesting to see Tess survive to help Joel and Ellie and if the show makes that change then we’d love to see Preacher’s brilliant Ruth Negga take up that place as part of the core trio. It would be a big change so we won’t count on it but even so, if we’re to see an expanded version of Tess we’d love to see Negga turn her talented hand to this action heavy role.
Bill – W. Earl Brown
W. Earl Brown has showcased his talents as a voice actor and screen talent and that’s the reason we’d be incredibly excited for him to reprise his role as the paranoid and fearful ally of Joel and Tess in the live action adaptation. Bill is a business partner of the smuggling pair but lives in constant terror of the infected surrounding himself booby traps and weapons. Though Bill seems to play into some classic zombie / outbreak tropes he suffers a tragedy which plays a key part in Joel’s journey, so it’ll take a seriously talented character actor to bring him to life.
Marlene – Gugu Mbatha-Raw
The leader of the militia group known as the Fireflies, Marlene plays a large role in the wider story of Joel and Ellie. Her organization is attempting to free the quarantined from the military. But there’s something even more vital here, as Marlene was a close friend of Ellie’s mother who asked her to take care of her daughter. Now we’ve just seen HBO adapt a classic property with a subversive and strange take that changed much of what we knew, so there’s a chance that Joel might not be the one to help Ellie fight her way to freedom… if they were looking to change we’d be interested in seeing Marlene taking that place. But either way we’d love to see the awesome Gugu Mbatha-Raw take on the radical and complex role of Marlene.
David – John Hawkes
Every story needs a secret villain and David plays that role as he appears as an ally to Ellie only to reveal that his survival instinct has fostered a horrific dark side. Not only does veteran character actor John Hawkes bear a striking resemblance to the character in the game, but he also has the ability to be both charismatic and creepy, scary and safe, and most importantly the power to be a truly terrifying foe for Ellie and Joel.
We’ll have to wait and see what HBO has in store for The Last of Us, but be sure that we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground to get all the news on the adaptation as and when it hits!
Featured Image: Naughty Dog
Originally published March 5, 2020.