One of the most popular video game series ever is getting its own TV series adaptation. Based on Naughty Dog's 2013 game of the same name, which flawlessly combined horror and drama with rich, character-driven storytelling, The Last of Us will launch on HBO, where it is set to be one of the biggest shows the network has seen since the global phenomenon Game of Thrones.
While the game series is still fairly new, with The Last of Us: Part II having only been released just last year, that hasn't stopped the franchise from expanding in other forms of media. A comic book miniseries was published after the original game in 2013, while the games themselves have enjoyed several downloadable content additions and also a remastered version of the original.
There were even many rumors of a possible movie adaptation doing the rounds at one point. In 2014, Sam Raimi was said to be producing a big-screen version of the game, with the game's creative director Neil Druckmann penning the script. But the project quickly stalled due to creative disputes with Sony, and as we now know, it never saw the light of day.
Now, while filming for the HBO series has just started and isn't scheduled to finish until sometime in June next year, The Last of Us is already starting to pick up a lot of traction, with news suddenly emerging from all corners of the internet like the Infected. But we've got it all covered in one place, so here's everything you need to know about The Last of Us HBO series.
The Last of Us HBO series story
Fans of The Last of Us will already be familiar with the story, which sees a fungus turning people into the Infected in Austin, Texas. The game opens with Joel attempting to take his young daughter Sarah to safety, with the help of his brother Tommy, however, things take a very tragic turn. Many years later, Joel is a hardened smuggler living at a settlement, where he meets teenager Ellie, whom he is tasked with taking out of the quarantine zone and across a deadly landscape teeming with the Infected.
Fans of the game won't be surprised to learn that the story for the upcoming HBO series is being adapted from the original game. Neil Druckmann has confirmed that much of the script and dialogue is being lifted directly from the game, but that there will also be some major differences too.
Like the original game, the series will follow the characters of Joel and Ellie as they navigate a world that's been ravaged by the Infected - zombie-like creatures created by a mutated fungus. Joel is a smuggler who undertakes the responsibility of escorting teenager Ellie through the United States, which has long been devastated by the country's new population of cannibalistic humanoids.
Alongside excellent gameplay and impressive visuals and sound design, the game's huge focus on storytelling and characterization led to critical acclaim, and the game became an instant classic. So the showrunners have a huge task on their hands, but it seems like the project is being taken just as seriously. And with a rumored eight-figure budget per episode, it doesn't get more serious than that.
The first season of The Last of Us will include ten episodes in total.
The Last of Us HBO series cast
The show's two lead protagonists will mirror those of the games – fans simply wouldn't settle for anything less. And as such, some careful casting has taken place. Taking on the role of hardened, grief-stricken smuggler Joel is Pedro Pascal, now world-famous for being the hero of the hit Star Wars live-action show The Mandalorian.
Alongside him, Bella Ramsey, best known for her roles inGame of Thrones and the TV adaptation of Philip Pullman's bestselling novels His Dark Materials, will play 14-year-old Ellie, a character who is immune to the mutation that creates the Infected and could be the key to the survival of the human race.
Joining them as Joel's younger brother and former soldier Tommy is Gabriel Luna, who has appeared in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Terminator: Dark Fate.
Recurring cast members include Jeffrey Pierce, Merle Dandridge, and Anna Tory, who will play Perry, Marlene, and Tess, with the two latter characters having appeared in the games. Guest appearances will include Nico Parker, Murray Bartlett, and Con O'Neill, who will play Sarah, Frank, and Bill, all of whom have appeared in the game series.
As for the villains, it is said that the ‘Clickers' will appear in the series, which are creatures at the third and final stage of the mutation.
The Last of Us HBO series trailer
As the show only started shooting this month, there is no trailer as yet. But be sure to keep checking in for updates.
The Last of Us HBO series Pedro Pascal
Since The Mandalorian arrived on Disney+ in 2019, Pedro Pascal has been a hugely sought-after actor. His other roles include Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, and Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman: 1984.
Fans seem thrilled with the decision to cast Pascal into the role of one of the games' two lead protagonists, which is likely due to him being well received as a ‘surrogate father figure' in The Mandalorian, in which his bounty hunter Din Jarin is tasked with smuggling a child across a dangerous galaxy, in the hope of finding him a safe home with the Jedi.
The character of Joel is portrayed by Troy Baker in both of the video games, The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Part II.
The Last of Us HBO series Bella Ramsey
The game-version of the protagonist Ellie is portrayed by voice actor Ashley Johnson, and like Joel, is a character who is loved by fans of the game. Ellie develops a strong bond with the smuggler as they travel across the post-apocalyptic United States, however, the character was previously at the heart of some controversy.
Many fans drew a likeness between Ellie – from the original game – and actor Elliot Page, which resulted in a complete redesign of the character for The Last of Us: Part II. And the sequel-version does look very much like her vocal counterpart Ashley Johnson.
Now, Bella Ramsey, who will be taking on the role in the HBO series, also looks very much like Ellie from the sequel. The actress previously played Lyanna Mormont in HBO's Game of Thrones and has also appeared in the television adaptation of His Dark Materials, the bestselling novel by Philip Pullman.
The Last of Us HBO series news
Filming for the show started in mid-July in Calgary, Alberta in Canada, and is scheduled to conclude in June next year. In recent weeks, set photos have appeared online, courtesy of actor Gabriel Luna. Set photos have also emerged showing scenes potentially lifted from the original game's iconic prologue.
With a rumored eight-figure budget per episode, the show is set to be the most expensive ever made.
On July 22, actress Anna Torv was cast as a ‘recurring character' in the highly anticipated HBO series.
Filming for the show's pilot finished in August, which the episode's director Kantemir Balagov confirmed via his Instagram. Production for the rest of the series is expected to be finished by June 2022.
On September 27, a first-look image of actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey was released from the official Naughty Dog Twitter account, which shows the two looking at a plane wreckage in a grassy clearing.
The Last of Us HBO series release date
The first season is set to debut sometime in 2022. However, as filming won't finish until summer 2022, we can expect the series to air on HBO much later in the year.
The original game sold over 1.3 million copies during its first week and even went on to win multiple Game of the Year awards while being described as "one of the greatest video games ever made". Naturally, expectations are high for the upcoming HBO series, so we'll bring you all the latest news as it unfolds.