Ellie and Joel’s acclaimed story comes to HBO. Here’s what we know so far.
On November 20, HBO announced a dramatic adaptation of the 2013 video game series The Last of Us. The post-apocalyptic third-person zombie shooter, about a father-daughter relationship and the horrible acts people commit in the name of love, is still considered one of the greatest video games according to gamers opinions from AskGamblers in history.
There’s a bit of irony in this commercial: The original game was already a narrative experience borrowed from the cinematic tropes. How would a TV series contribute to that universe? Would it expand the original characters and their motivations? Would it create new characters and events we’ve never seen before, or would it strictly stick to the original material? Would it include material from “The Last of Us” Part II, the most controversial and heartbreaking sequel to the original?
Slowly, we are getting answers to these questions and more. Here’s everything we know so far about HBO’s adaptation of “The Last of Us: Part II”.
1. Series Release Date
There is no announced release date for The Last of Us on HBO. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt had an effect on casting, scheduling, and filming. The only new image we have from the production is the above Firefly logo. We will update this gallery as we learn more.
The Last of Us video game is written by Neil Druckmann, the current creative director and co-chairman of the Naughty Dog development studio. Druckmann will co-write the pilot with Craig Mazin for the HBO show. He received rave reviews for writing and directing the HBO mini-series Chernobyl.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Mazin assured fans that he plans to stay true to both the events and the spirit of the game:
“I think fans of something worry that when the property is licensed to someone else, those people won’t really understand it, or change it,” Mazin said. “In this case, I’m doing it with the guy who did it, and so the changes we make are meant to fill things up and expand them, not undo them, but make them better.
Johan Renck, who directed Chernobyl, was originally slated to direct the pilot, but he had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. It is unknown who will replace him.
4. The Plot
The plot synopsis that WarnerMedia gave in its press release hews very closely to the game’s plot: “The story takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, 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.”
According to Mazin, one of the goals of the series is to show us events and characters that we didn’t experience or meet in the game–implying that they will not alter the game’s central plot, only flesh them out and give them additional context.
If you’re a Stephen King fan, a good way of thinking about this is by thinking about his post-apocalyptic novel The Stand, first released in 1978, and later re-released in 1990 as a “Complete and Uncut Edition.” In his preface for the latter, King made the following explanation to readers who were thinking about purchasing the latest edition:
“You will not discover old characters behaving in new ways, nor will the course of the tale branch off at some point from the old narrative, taking you, Constant Reader, in an entirely different direction. This version of The Stand is an expansion of the original novel. As I’ve said, you won’t find old characters behaving in strange new ways, but you will discover that almost all of the characters were, in the book’s original form, doing more things, and if I didn’t think some of those things were interesting—perhaps even enlightening—I would never have agreed to this project.”
5. Confirmed characters
Aside from the plot synopsis, which names Joel and Ellie, there are no official reports about the characters who will appear in the drama. But in March, Neil Druckmann responded to an HBO tweet by naming Ellie, Riley, Tess, Marlene, Maria and a name he edited. The tweet was sent several months before the release of The Last of Us Part II, implying that the missing name was a character from the upcoming sequel.
From this we know that just about everything, plot-wise, is on the table. Riley’s presence means that the prequel Left Behind is fair game – maybe there are flashbacks to when Ellie was infected? And Mary’s presence also means the presence of Tommy, Joel’s younger brother.
And as for the missing name? Maybe it could be Dina or Abby, especially if this series is a hit and HBO orders another season.
6. Returning composer
In a tweet from Neil Druckman, Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed the scores for The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II, will also be composing music for the new series.
There were no specific announcements after the report on the series order. There were rumors about the casting, but they were not confirmed. Maisie Williams and Caitlin Deaver, whose fans on Twitter suggested them for Ellie, have stated publicly that they would love to play the role.
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