Everything you need to know about new, queer, post-apocalyptic HBO series The Last of Us
Lauded for their mature storytelling and queer representation, The Last of Us games are among the most popular on Sony’s PlayStation consoles.
It was only a matter of time, then, before they were picked up for a TV show. Thanks HBO! This will be the network’s first show based on a video game, which they’re probably hoping it’ll fill the void left by Game of Thrones.
So what can we expect from the post-apocalyptic fungal infested TV adaptation? Here’s everything we know so far about HBO’s The Last of Us.
What’s The Last of Us about?
The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by a fungal infection known as Cordyceps that turns humans into aggressive creatures called Infected.
Humans are restricted to quarantine zones opposed by a rebel militia known as The Fireflies.
Joel is a smuggler who survived a traumatic past and is tasked with transporting Ellie, a young teenager, across the country.
And yes, Ellie will be gay.
Who’s starring in it?
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey will star as Joel and Ellie respectively, with both being well known for their roles in Game of Thrones (Oberyn Martell, Lyanna Mormont). Pascal also plays Din Djarin, a.k.a. the Mandalorian in the Disney+ show of the same name.
Joining the cast are Nico Parker (Thandiwe Newton’s daughter, known for her role in Dumbo) as Joel’s daughter Sarah, Gabriel Luna (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Joel’s brother Tommy, and Merle Dandridge reprising her role as Marlene from the games.
Newly added to the cast is Anna Torv, who will be playing the role of Tess: a fellow smuggler and friend of Joel’s. Torv is known for her roles in Fringe and Mindhunter.
Jeffrey Pierce, who played Tommy in the game, will feature as a new character called Perry. Speaking on the To All The Films We Judged Before podcast, he described the scripts as “breathtaking”.
“I’ve read a couple of the scripts, and they are breathtaking, every piece of tone and texture of the game exists in the writing, and then it’s a hundred times more because you get to do so much more [because] it’s all cinematic it’s not at all gameplay”.
We should have plenty to look forward to then.
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Who’s involved behind the scenes?
Neil Druckmann, writer/director of the game, has written the script for the TV show along with Craig Mazin, the creator of Chernobyl. Carolyn Strauss, who’s worked on Chernobyl and Game of Thrones will produce.
Episodes will be directed by various names, including Kantemir Balagov and Ali Abbas. Balagov is directing the pilot episode.
Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions and Word Games are also involved.
How long will it be?
On the podcast Scriptnotes, Mazin confirmed “we have five directors across 10 episodes” for the first series.
It’s unclear yet whether this will cover the entirety of the first game or just part of it.
The episodes are said to be costing $10 million each at a minimum, making the show the largest project shooting in Canada. At ten episodes, this would mean the show is costing HBO a minimum of around $100 million – they’re pretty serious about its success, then.
Do I need to play the game first?
This initial series of the show is expected to be based on the first of the two games, though Druckmann has stated it could “deviate greatly” owing to the different medium.
“We talked at length [that season one of the show is going to be [the first game],” said Druckmann in an interview, noting “the philosophical underpinnings of the story” were essential.
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“Things sometimes stay pretty close. It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium,” he said.
Knowledge of the games will certainly help, then, but the show is intended to be a new standalone adaptation of the existing story.
When will The Last of Us be released?
The release date is currently unknown, but filming recently started in Calgary in July 2021 and will continue until June 2022.