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How Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey Became Ellie and Joel

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The Last of Us has a daunting task of surviving the apocalyptic task of adapting a popular video game into a live-action story. HBO’s new series will be based on the PlayStation saga of the same name, having The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal step into the role of Joel Miller and Game of Thrones alum Bella Ramsey fill the shoes of Ellie. Joel and Ellie were originally performed by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, respectively, delivering iconic characters for the video game which, 10 years later, has spawned a new TV show. Before heading into the apocalytptic world of The Last of Us, Pascal and Ramsey had to find their versions of and voices for Joel and Ellie.

For Pascal, the southern accent which Joel offers as a Texas-native was only a small part of finding the character. “There were so many different resources that I was able to use to put everything together,” Pascal told “There’s a voice that’s on the page that Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann wrote in these incredible episodes. You have a quality from the game. You’ve got a quality that Troy [Baker] brought to Joel that is, I think, essential in the playing of the character. And, then, there was, sort of, what made sense to me and the way I heard it and what sounded right. You’ve got a costume department and a make up department. I have a personal hair person, Courtney Ullrich, who was all part of the look and sound of Joel in this adaptation.”

Pascal noted, audiences might see his Joel character “shrink” over time “because he is gettin’ long in the tooth.” The character, for the majority of the show, will be in his mid-50’s while trying to endure a world filled with infected humans bent on destruction.

For Ramsey, the process was not unlike that of Pascal’s to find Ellie. “Ellie was someone that I already felt like was a part of me so it wasn’t such a jump and such an effort for me to become her and that’s guided hugely, and informed by, the voice of Ellie in the script which is obviously written by the creator of the game and such a huge fan of the game in Craig Mazin,” Ramsey said. “It was all there for me. It was very easy.”

The script was a helpful resource but the cast members had others in mind. “[Mazin and Druckmann] said they had took everything that they loved from the game and all of the Ellie from the game and all of that and put it into the script so that I think if we had just read the scripts I think we would’ve both been okay but we did both do our individual research, kind of, secretly,” Ramsey said. 


This additional research was done out of “naughty curiosity,” according to Pascal, but both cast members agree the decision to explore the source material was beneficial. This might mean they played through The Last of Us on PlayStation and its downloadable additional content which promises to be factored into the show’s first season. It could also mean Ramsey and Pascal took a look at the The Last of Us: American Dream 4-issue comic which published with the original game’s release in 2013.

As far as becoming one with the character in an apocalyptic setting is concerned, Pascal and Ramsey did learn a few neat survival tricks. “I got to flip my knife,” Ramsey said. “Flip and catch my knife.” Ramsey also “got to snap a finger,” which sounds like a brutal moment coming to the series. Pascal, meanwhile, seems to be portraying a killing machine as Joel which might sound familiar to gamers. “General fighting,” Pascal said was among the skills he learned. “Choking somebody out and, I think, snapping their neck. I had never done that before.” 

Are you excited for The Last of Us? Subscribe to ComicBook & ET’s new podcast The Last of Pods for weekly interviews and episode discussions! The Last of Us premieres its first episode on January 15.

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