The Last of Us nearly cast a very different actor for Joel. The Last of Us is one of the most beloved games of all-time and a large part of that is the characters. The story is incredibly emotional and it’s carried by the two lead characters and their respective performances. For years, fans have dreamt of a TV or movie adaptation and tried to fan-cast the actors who would play Joel and Ellie. Just about every middle-aged man with a good beard was imagined as Joel and a number of brown-haired teenage girls were pictured for Ellie, however, very few people had pegged Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey for the roles ahead of their casting. With that said, the role of Joel almost went to another completely unexpected actor.
When speaking with The Direct, actor Jeffrey Pierce (who played Tommy in the video game and Perry in the TV series) spoke about how he realized he wouldn’t be playing Tommy in live action when they started casting the actor for Joel. At some point, Blade actor Mahershala Ali was in talks to play Joel (which was one of the rumored names before Pascal) and Pierce realized that it obviously wouldn’t make any sense for him to play his brother.
“Initially they had talked to Mahershala Ali about playing Joel, which is an obvious cue that I’m not gonna play Tommy,” says Pierce. “When they cast Pedro, I knew like, yeah, that was certainly not going to happen regardless. I’m older than Pedro Pascal. So I was not under harboring any illusions about that, for sure.”
It’s unclear how much this would’ve changed The Last of Us, but Mahershala Ali is a world renowned actor with a couple of Oscars under his belt. He’s certainly up for the task, but Pedro Pascal has won over the hearts of millions with his portrayal of Joel and that will likely continue in to the imminent second season.
What do you think of the casting for The Last of Us? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @Cade_Onder.