HBO’s The Last of Us series adaptation changes the races of several characters from the original video games, including Sarah, Joel and Tommy.
The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.
HBO’s The Last of Us has given Joel, Tommy and Sarah Miller some significant updates from the original video games.
As seen in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us video game series, Joel Miller and his brother Tommy are Caucasian. However, The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal (Joel) hails from Chile, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D‘s Gabriel Luna (Tommy) is of Mexican descent. In the video games, Joel’s daughter Sarah also appears Caucasian, but actor Nico Parker can trace her ancestry back to Zimbabwe thanks to her mother, Thandiwe Newton, who played Val in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Additionally, the episode expands on the relationship between the three, showcasing their family dynamic before the outbreak in a way the games never did. Viewers first meet Tommy as he comes over on the morning of Joel’s birthday to join the father and daughter for breakfast, and the three engage in familial banter. The Last of Us also expands on the brotherly bond between Joel and Tommy, with the former going to the latter’s aid when he’d arrested for a bar fight. In the game, much of Joel’s relationship with Tommy remains unseen until the halfway point.
The Last of Us Almost Had a Different Cast
Pascal wasn’t the only actor who expressed interest in playing Joel. Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles rallied to play The Last of Us protagonist. “I don’t think I was really in the mix or even had a shot at it,” Ackles said. Despite missing out on the post-apocalyptic adaptation, The Boys star teased his involvement in an unknown upcoming video game.
As for Ellie Williams, The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann revealed that he had considered Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams and Booksmart‘s Kaitlyn Dever before Bella Ramsey entered the picture. The casting team reportedly saw “dozens and dozens” of people to play the tough 14-year-old but had to axe Williams and Dever after they became too old for the role at 25 and 26 years old, respectively. Although Druckmann later struck gold with Ramsey. “Bella felt so real,” Druckmann remarked. “It was like Ellie realized in live action. It didn’t feel like watching an actor.”
How HBO’s The Last of Us Compares to the Game
Compared to the video games, HBO’s The Last of Us will feature less violence and introduce several new characters. Additionally, Druckmann and The Last of Us co-creator Craig Mazin previously discussed how the adaptation would include moments that didn’t make it into the Naughty Dog titles. Mazin promised several surprises throughout the show for those familiar with the video games. “It’s interesting, we’ve now talked to people who have watched the entire season and went back and played the game, and they said the game is now richer having watched the show,” Druckmann added.
Mazin and Druckmann also assured fans that The Last of Us would not follow the same suit as Game of Thrones. According to Druckmann, the HBO series won’t “tell any stories beyond adapting the games.” While Season 1 follows the storyline of 2013’s The Last of Us, the co-creators hinted Season 2 focuses on the 2020 sequel. It’s unclear if The Last of Us Part III is in development and if it would affect a potential Season 3.
The Last of Us is available to stream on HBO Max and will premiere weekly on Sundays on HBO.
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