The Last of Us (TV series)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us TV logo.svg
Genre
Based onThe Last of Us
by Naughty Dog[a]
Developed by
Written by
  • Craig Mazin
  • Neil Druckmann
Starring
ComposerGustavo Santaolalla
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producers
Production locationsAlberta, Canada
Cinematography
  • Ksenia Sereda
  • Eben Bolter
  • Christine A. Maier
  • Nadim Carlsen
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Studios
Release
Original networkHBO
Picture format4K UHDTV[b]

The Last of Us is an upcoming American post-apocalyptic drama television series set to air on HBO. Based on the 2013 video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog, the series will follow Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. It will feature Gabriel Luna as Joel's younger brother Tommy, Merle Dandridge as resistance leader Marlene, and Anna Torv as Joel's smuggler partner Tess.

The series, said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, was filmed in Alberta from July 2021 to June 2022. It is the first HBO series to be based on a video game, and is a joint production by Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Naughty Dog, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games. The first season will consist of nine episodes written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann; the latter wrote and directed the game. Original game composer Gustavo Santaolalla will compose the score. The series is set to debut on January 15, 2023.

Cast and characters

Main

Pascal and Ramsey portray the show's lead characters, Joel and Ellie
, respectively.
  • Pedro Pascal as Joel, a hardened survivor who is tormented by the trauma of his past. Joel is tasked with smuggling a young girl out of a quarantine zone, and eventually across the United States. Pascal became available for a new series after the release of the second season of The Mandalorian; his availability attracted several offers from large networks, of which he chose The Last of Us.[3] Pascal is reportedly earning $600,000 per episode, making him one of the highest paid American television stars.[4] He watched his nephew play the beginning of the first game, lacking the skill to play it himself; he found Joel to be "so impressive" but was concerned about imitating the games too closely, instead choosing to "create a healthy distance" and allow the showrunners to decide the characterization.[5] In the video games, Joel is portrayed by Troy Baker.[6]
  • Bella Ramsey as Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who displays defiance and anger but has a private need for kinship and belonging. She is immune to the Cordyceps brain infection and may be the key to creating a vaccine.[7] In keeping with the games, the character is a lesbian.[8] Ramsey received news of her casting during production on a different project. She said the show feels "like the biggest thing I have ever done".[9] Ramsey was encouraged not to play the game after her audition to avoid replicating the original performance; she watched some gameplay on YouTube to "get a sense of it" and wants her performance to be reminiscent of the games without copying them.[10][11] In the video games, Ellie is played by Ashley Johnson.[6]

Recurring

  • Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Joel's younger brother and a former soldier who maintains idealism in his hope for a better world.[12] About a month after the casting of Pascal and Ramsey, Luna was asked to submit an audition tape; he was familiar with the work of co-creator Craig Mazin and executive producer Carolyn Strauss, and had previously worked with HBO on True Detective.[13]: 1:02  About a week after submitting his tape, Luna was offered the role by Mazin, Strauss, and co-creator Neil Druckmann; according to Luna, they instantly knew he was "the one".[13]: 1:53  Luna was enthusiastic for the role, having lived in Austin, Texas—Joel and Tommy's hometown—around the same time as the show's setting.[13]: 2:20  Luna was given a PlayStation 5 during production to play the games as research.[14] In the video games, Tommy is played by Jeffrey Pierce.[15]
  • Anna Torv as Tess, a hardened survivor and Joel's smuggler partner.[16] In the first game, Tess is played by Annie Wersching.[17]
  • Merle Dandridge as Marlene, the head of the Fireflies, a resistance movement hoping to gain freedom from the military. Dandridge reprises her role from the video games.[18]

Guest

  • Nico Parker as Sarah, Joel's daughter.[19] In the first game, Sarah is played by Hana Hayes.[20]
  • Murray Bartlett as Frank, a survivalist living in an isolated town with Bill.[21] Bartlett was unfamiliar with the source material but was drawn to the show after he read the script.[22] He researched the game after receiving the role and found it cinematic, citing the characters, narrative, and themes.[23] Frank is seen briefly in the first game, but has no dialogue.[24]
  • Nick Offerman as Bill, a survivalist who lives with Frank. Con O'Neill was initially cast in the role, but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.[25] In the first game, Bill is played by W. Earl Brown.[21]
  • Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, the leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City. Kathleen is an original character.[26]
  • Storm Reid as Riley Abel, an orphaned girl who is growing up in post-apocalyptic Boston.[27] Reid was unfamiliar with the game prior to her casting; when approached to star in the show, she asked family and friends for their opinions on the game. Reid will star in the eighth episode.[28] Riley originally appeared in a downloadable content pack for the first game, The Last of Us: Left Behind, in which she is portrayed by Yaani King.[27]
  • Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, a rebel in a quarantine zone. Pierce previously portrayed Tommy in the video games.[21] Perry is an original character in the show who, according to Pierce, "has huge implications for things" that occurred in the game.[29]
  • Lamar Johnson as Henry, who is hiding from a revolutionary movement in Kansas City with his younger brother Sam. In the first game, Henry is played by Brandon Scott, and his scenes take place in Pittsburgh.[30]
  • Keivonn Woodard as Sam, a deaf, artistic child who is hunted by violent revolutionaries alongside his brother Henry.[30][31] In the first game, Sam is played by Nadji Jeter.[30]
  • Graham Greene as Marlon, who lives with his wife Florence in the wilderness of Wyoming. Marlon is an original character for the television series.[30]
  • Elaine Miles as Florence, who lives with her husband Marlon. Florence is an original character.[30]

Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, who portrayed Ellie and Joel in the games, will star in the series in undisclosed roles,[32] as will Rutina Wesley and Brad Leland.[33][34] The show will feature the character Maria,[35] as well as Clickers, humans who have been heavily infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus.[36]

Production

Development

After the release of Naughty Dog's video game The Last of Us in 2013, two film adaptations were attempted: a feature film written by the game's writer and creative director Neil Druckmann and produced by Sam Raimi entered development hell,[37] and an animated short film adaptation by Oddfellows was canceled by Sony.[38] In March 2020, a television adaptation was announced in the planning stages at HBO, expected to cover events of this game and possibly some parts of its sequel, The Last of Us Part II (2020). Alongside Druckmann, Craig Mazin was named to help write and executive produce the series, while television producer Carolyn Strauss and Naughty Dog president Evan Wells were named additional executive producers,[39] and Gustavo Santaolalla, who worked on the games, the show's composer.[40] The show was announced as a joint production of Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Naughty Dog;[41] it is the first show produced by PlayStation Productions.[39][42] The show is produced under the company name Bear and Pear Productions.[43][44][45]

Johan Renck, Mazin’s collaborator on his previous HBO series Chernobyl, was announced as an executive producer and the director of the pilot episode in June 2020;[46] by November 2020, he had dropped out due to scheduling conflicts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[47][48] HBO greenlit the series on November 20, 2020. PlayStation Productions's Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan were named executive producers, and Word Games was added as a production company.[41] In January 2021, The Mighty Mint joined production, and Kantemir Balagov was announced as the pilot episode's director.[49] Balagov had been interested in adapting the game for several years and was said to have been directing several of the show's opening episodes;[50][51] in October 2022, Balagov said he left the project a year prior due to creative differences,[52] and his work would not be featured in the show.[53][54] Rose Lam was added as an executive producer in February 2021.[12]

Pre-production for the series in Calgary, Alberta, began on March 15, 2021, according to the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC);[55] Mazin arrived in Calgary in May.[56] Ali Abbasi and Jasmila Žbanić were announced as additional directors in April 2021.[57] In July, Mazin said the first season would consist of ten episodes and two more directors were yet to be announced;[58] in November 2022, the season's nine-episode count was announced.[59] In July 2021, the DGC revealed Peter Hoar was assigned to direct,[43] followed in August by Mazin,[44] in September by Druckmann,[60] and in January 2022 by Liza Johnson and Jeremy Webb.[61] In February 2022, Druckmann confirmed he directed an episode, and felt his experience reinforced and reflected his experience in directing games.[62] Director of photography Nadim Carlsen, a frequent collaborator of Abbasi, noted he was working alongside him on the ninth and tenth episodes.[63] Paul Becker choreographed the series,[64] and Barrie Gower is the prosthetics designer, responsible for the designs of the Infected.[65] Visual effects studio DNEG are involved with the series.[66]

The Last of Us is said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, expected to generate over CA$200 million in revenue for Alberta.[67][68][69] According to Damian Petti, president of the Canadian artists union IATSE 212, the show's budget exceeds CA$10 million per episode;[69] some sources suggested the budget may be closer to US$15 million per episode,[70] and Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, was reportedly told the budget could reach CA$200 million per year.[71] Petti and Calgary film commissioner Luke Azevedo felt the production team partly chose Alberta for production due to the government's 2021 decision to remove its tax credit cap of CA$10 million per project. IATSE 212 claimed the production led to a 30 percent increase in union membership and employment.[72] The production team includes five art directors and hundreds of technicians.[69] Rodnyansky said the show is set to last several seasons,[50] while Kenney claimed it could last as many as eight;[71] Mazin suggested a second season is likely if the first is well received.[73] Druckmann said the first season will cover the events of the first game.[36]

Casting

For International Women's Day on March 8, 2020, Druckmann confirmed several of the characters from the games would appear in the show, including Ellie, Riley, Tess, Marlene, and Maria.[35] On February 10, 2021, Pascal and Ramsey were cast as Joel and Ellie, respectively.[3][7] Earlier that day, it was reported Mahershala Ali was offered the role of Joel after Matthew McConaughey turned it down;[74] The Hollywood Reporter noted Ali "did circle a role" in the show, but a deal was never formed.[7] It was announced Gabriel Luna was cast in a lead role as Tommy on April 15, 2021,[75] and Dandridge was confirmed to reprise her role of Marlene from the video games on May 27.[18] In May, Classic Casting circulated a casting call for extras from Calgary, Fort Macleod, High River, and Lethbridge; anyone over 18 could apply, and those with vehicles from 1995 to 2003 were recommended.[76] It was announced Parker was cast as Sarah on June 30.[19] Pierce, Bartlett, and O'Neill's casting as Perry, Frank, and Bill, respectively, was announced on July 15,[21] followed by Torv's as Tess on July 22.[16] Leland claimed he had filmed some scenes for the show by October 2021.[34] On December 5, Bartlett claimed Offerman would appear on the show in a role close to his;[77] two days later, Offerman was announced to be playing Bill, replacing O'Neill who was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.[25] On December 9, Žbanić revealed the casting of Greene, Miles, and Wesley.[33] Reid's casting as Riley Abel was announced on January 14, 2022.[27] In February, Mazin distributed a casting call for a boy aged 8–14 who is deaf, black, and proficient in American Sign Language or Black American Sign Language; Deaf West Theatre confirmed this was for the character of Sam, who will appear in two episodes filmed in March and April.[31] In June, Druckmann announced Baker and Ashley Johnson would star in the series.[32] Lamar Johnson and Woodard's casting as Henry and Sam was announced in August, alongside the official announcement of Greene and Miles as Marlon and Florence.[30] Lynskey's casting as Kathleen was announced alongside the first trailer in September.[26]

Writing

Mazin and Druckmann wrote the series;[39] according to the Writers Guild of America West, prior to the reduction from ten to nine episodes, Druckmann and Mazin co-wrote the first two, Druckmann wrote the eighth, and Mazin wrote the remaining seven.[78] Mazin, a fan of the video game, was introduced to Druckmann through Shannon Woodward, a mutual friend who portrayed Dina in Part II. Druckmann, a fan of Mazin's series Chernobyl, was originally working on a film adaptation of the game; Mazin felt it required the length and pacing of a television series, and Druckmann agreed.[79] Mazin said the series may represent a paradigm shift for film and television adaptations of video games due to the strength of the narrative, noting "it would only take [HBO executives] 20 minutes on Google to realize The Last of Us is the Lawrence of Arabia of video game narratives".[80] Mazin said the changes being made for the adaptation "are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but enhance".[81] He noted the series was avoiding episodic storylines, such as random encounters not present in the original story. He said content cut from the game will be added to the show, including one "jaw drop" moment Druckmann described to him.[82] Druckmann noted some of the show's scripts borrow dialogue directly from the game, while others deviate more significantly; some of the game's action-heavy sequences will be changed to focus more on the show's character drama, at the encouragement of HBO.[36] Druckmann noted the series was taking the opposite approach to adaptation than the film Uncharted (2022), based on the video game series by Naughty Dog; while Uncharted tells a new story with moments from the games to give "an Uncharted flavor", The Last of Us is a direct adaptation with minor deviations, allowing alterations such as changing character perspectives in a manner unachievable in an immersive game.[62] The show's outbreak takes place in 2003, as opposed to 2013 as in the game.[83]

Filming

Filming for the series began in Calgary, Alberta, on July 12, 2021,[55][84] a week later than originally scheduled.[85] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew quarantined for two weeks after entering Canada.[9] Ksenia Sereda, a frequent collaborator of Balagov's, worked as cinematographer alongside Balagov and Druckmann.[86][87] Eben Bolter worked alongside Hoar,[88][89] while frequent collaborator Christine A. Maier worked with Žbanić.[33] Members of the cast and crew arrived in Calgary in June;[90] Luna posted the first photo from set of himself alongside Balagov, Pascal, Parker, and Sereda on July 2.[91] On July 12, 2021, the council of High River approved the production team's request to film in the former Beachwood area between July and October;[92] in exchange, the production paid CA$100,000 to the town for community funding, and reimbursed the town an additional CA$15,000 for the removal of three trees in the area.[93] Filming in High River took place in the evenings of July 13–19,[94] before moving to Fort Macleod from July 19–24, following months of rehearsals and preparations including polling businesses and residents;[95][96][97][98] several storefronts were changed to fit the show.[99] The set featured police cars from Austin, Texas, the location of the game's prologue.[100] Production returned to High River in the evening of July 29,[92] before moving to Calgary in August.[101]

A small street of brick buildings was constructed near Stampede Park for use in production,[68] expected to recreate a quarantine zone in Boston, as depicted in the game's opening act.[102][103] Balagov's work on the show had completed production by August 30;[86] he later left the project entirely due to creative differences.[52] By September, Torv was filming in Canada.[104] Hoar's episodes completed production on October 5, 2021.[89] Filming took place in and around Rice Howard Way in Downtown Edmonton from October 2–18;[105] Pascal filmed establishing shots in the area in early October,[45] and returned for full production later in the month alongside Ramsey and Torv.[45][106] The location is expected to replicate a post-apocalyptic Boston,[45][107] and was set up with a large crater in front of an Italian restaurant and a green screen for the skyline. The production crew converted a local business into a ruined salon and asked another if they would permit a stunt performer to fly through the front window. Production took place at the Alberta Legislature Building,[45] which was dressed with vines and greenery.[105] Production spent around CA$372,000 for a four-day shoot in Edmonton.[108] Filming took place in downtown Calgary from October 15–18,[109][110] followed by Beltline from October 23–28.[111] Druckmann's episodes completed production by November 7, 2021.[87]

For the seventh episode of the show,[112] Canmore, Alberta, was used to replicate Jackson, Wyoming, the location of Tommy's community in the game.[113][112] Production occurred in the town from November 15–19,[113] with Pascal, Ramsey, and Luna present on set;[114][115] approximately 300 extras were used,[108] as well as horses.[116] Most businesses in the town signed agreements regarding the show's impact, with the production paying between CA$1,000 and CA$1,500 per day.[108] In late November, filming occurred at Mount Royal University and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT),[117] expected to recreate the fictional University of Eastern Colorado from the game.[118] Snow was removed at SAIT and foliage was added to both locations to produce an autumnal setting.[117] Žbanić's episodes completed production by December 9, 2021.[33] In January 2022, Northland Village Mall in northwest Calgary was decorated for production.[119] Production moved to Okotoks in January; filming occurred from February 7–12.[120][121][122] Okotoks residents noted the production brought increased business to the area;[123] 28 storefront businesses were supported by the production, leading to CA$18,000 in revenue for the town.[124] Production moved to the Waterton Lakes National Park from February 14–18, 2022;[125] vehicles on set featured Colorado license plates.[126]

The Airport Trail in northeast Calgary saw closures from March 14–17 for film production, expected to be The Last of Us.[127][128] Webb's episodes entered production in March 2022,[129] and continued until the end of principal photography in June.[130] Lamar Johnson and Woodard were on set in Calgary on March 23;[131][132][133] the scenes take place in Kansas City, Missouri, replacing Pittsburgh as seen in the game.[30][134] Production continued in Calgary in April, including around the Calgary Courts Centre, Kensington, and Victoria Park.[135][136] Pascal and Ramsey were on set in Calgary in May, followed some days later by military vehicles representing FEDRA, a fictional military faction.[137][138] Later in May, photographs revealed a hospital set, expected to recreate the first game's finale sequence.[139][140] Production moved to Olds in late May and early June, with several local businesses contracted to assist with construction and design;[141] a mural painted for the production, originally scheduled to be removed, was later approved to remain in the town.[142] The final day of principal photography was June 10, 2022,[143] two days later than originally scheduled;[55][84] production concluded in the early hours of June 11.[130] Additional photography took place on Interstate 435 in Kansas City—both in Kansas and Missouri—on October 4.[144]

Music

Santaolalla will compose the score for the television series.[40] Santaolalla said Latino viewers "will recognize touches" of his music.[145] He drew on his experiences in film and television, having composed the themes and some tracks for Jane the Virgin (2014–2019) and Making a Murderer (2015–2018).[145]

Release and promotion

While Balagov and The Hollywood Reporter originally indicated the show would begin airing in 2022,[146][147] HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys denied this in February 2022, and clarified it would likely begin airing in 2023;[148] in July 2022, Bloys added it would likely air early in 2023.[149] For The Last of Us Day on September 26, 2021, HBO shared the first image of Pascal and Ramsey in costume,[150] followed by the first still from the series at Summer Game Fest on June 10, 2022.[151] The first footage of the show was revealed in a HBO Max trailer during the premiere of House of the Dragon on August 21, 2022, featuring Pascal, Ramsey, Parker, and Offerman.[152][153] The September 2022 release of The Last of Us Part I—a remake of the original game—was partly based on the potential to introduce show viewers to the games.[154] The first full trailer for the show was released for The Last of Us Day on September 26, 2022, featuring the first footage of Luna, Dandridge, Torv, and Reid, and confirming the 2023 release window and Lynskey's casting;[26] the trailer's music, "Alone and Forsaken" by Hank Williams, was featured in the game and used in one of its trailers.[155] The trailer received over 17 million views in less than 24 hours across Twitter and YouTube.[156]

Following leaks from Sky and HBO Max,[157] on November 2, HBO announced the series would premiere in the United States on January 15, 2023, and released the first official poster.[59] It will air on HBO in the United States, and will be available to stream in 4K resolution on HBO Max;[2] it will be released on Binge in Australia,[158] Crave in Canada,[31] Disney+ Hotstar in India,[159] Neon in New Zealand,[160] and Sky Group channels and Now in the United Kingdom and Ireland,[161][162] Germany and Austria,[161] Italy,[163] and Switzerland.[161] A short clip of Joel and Ellie hiding from a Clicker was released on November 16 to tease the show's appearance at CCXP the following month;[164] Dandridge, Druckmann, Luna, Mazin, Pascal, and Ramsey will appear on a panel on December 3.[165]

Notes

  1. ^ The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Neil Druckmann was the writer and creative director, and Bruce Straley was the game director.[1]
  2. ^ 4K UHDTV only available through HBO Max and some international partner services. The originating HBO TV channel does not have a 4K feed and is limited to 1080i HDTV.[2]

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External links