Two major pieces of the puzzle for the upcoming The Last of Us TV adaptation have fallen into place with the casting of The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal as Joel and Games of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey as Ellie. They’re a pair of high-profile casting choices for the series, which is in development for HBO by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann.
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) February 11, 2021
Pascal has been on a string of great roles since his recurring role in Game of Thrones as Oberyn Martell, playing Javier Peña in Narcos for three seasons before his most recent stint as the titular Mandalorian. From that show, he is obviously very familiar with the basic premise of The Last of Us, in which Joel is a grizzled smuggler tasked with escorting 14-year old orphan Ellie, who will be played by Bella Ramsey, best known as Game of Thrones’ Lyanna Mormont, through a hostile post-apocalyptic rendition of America.
Meanwhile, over in The Mandalorian, Pascal has been escorting a baby Yoda around the Star Wars galaxy. I’m not saying that Ramsey’s Ellie and baby Yoda are quite alike, but… there’s some passing similarities to the plot, I guess?
The biggest difference for Pascal will probably be that he doesn’t have to act through the impenetrable and emotionless helmet of the Mandalorian armour. Well, that and there being zombified Clickers out to get him…
Pascal was announced shortly after rumours emerged that two time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali had been offered the lead role, and that Matthew McConaughey had turned it prior to this. These rumours were quashed and both Ramsey and Pascal’s signing were revealed shortly after.
The Last of Us’ HBO adaptation was announced back in March 2020, with Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann teaming up with Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin to bring the blockbuster video game story to TV audiences. Kantemir Balagov will be directing The Last of Us’ HBO pilot episode, no doubt able to tap into his experience in directing the Russian movie Beanpole, set in the ruined city of Leningrad during WW2. They’ve also called upon Gustavo Santaolalla to create the series’ soundtrack, which was such an integral part of the atmosphere of both The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II.