The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal opens up about why he found it impossible to turn down the Joel role in the HBO video game adaptation.
The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.
The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal recently explained why he couldn’t say no to HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation.
Pascal unpacked his reasons for signing on for The Last of Us in an interview with WIRED. “I find it funny when anyone applies choice to my experience,” he said. “Of course you can say no to things, but you can’t say no to [The Mandalorian creator] Jon Favreau, [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy, [The Mandalorian executive producer] Dave Filoni, or HBO. It never felt like stopping and considering what the characters were. It was simply the circumstance of a door opening and stepping through it… To be totally honest, it was wanting to work with [The Last of Us co-creator] Craig Mazin, who did Chernobyl. Also, HBO is content that I literally grew up on. I experienced their original programming. Their original programming was very, very mature.”
Pascal portrays The Last of Us protagonist Joel in the HBO series, a role originated by Troy Baker in the 2013 video game. Despite being replaced by Pascal, Baker will still appear in the show as James, a high-ranking member of a settler group Joel and Ellie encounter over the course of Season 1. Several other actors from the game are also on board for the Last of Us adaptation as well, including Ashley Johnson, who will portray Ellie’s mother, Anna. Craig Mazin recently addressed the decision to incorporate the Last of Us game’s actors into the show’s cast, insisting that it provided “a dramatic genetic connection between the game and the show.”
The Last of Us Co-Creator Discusses Ellie
Mazin acknowledged how difficult The Last of Us casting process was in a previous interview, recalling how the production auditioned more than 100 actors for the Ellie role. The showrunner explained that this was because Ellie needs to possess an “impossible combination of youth and experience” despite only being 14. He added that the person playing Ellie also needed to be able to sell the connection between her and Joel, which made filling the role even more difficult. Game of Thrones alumnus Bella Ramsey ultimately ticked all these boxes, beating out her many rivals for the part.
Mazin later touched on how Ellie is different from Joel’s daughter, Sarah, who plays a pivotal role in The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness.” “We asked [Sarah actor] Nico Parker to play an incredibly challenging part,” he said. “We have to fall in love with her, and she also has to be a specific kind of person, very different than the person that Joel is going to meet later in the episode in the guise of… little Ellie.”
The Last of Us Season 1 consists of nine episodes, with new episodes arriving on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays.