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Pedro Pascal Received ‘Last of Us’ Casting Backlash Over Inability to Grow a Full Beard

"They're like, 'Oh my God, he can't even have the same beard as Joel in the game,'" showrunner Craig Mazin said of diehard videogame fans.

Pedro Pascal lors du 79e festival du film de Venise le 3 septembre 2022. (Photo by Laurent Koffel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Pedro Pascal

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Pedro Pascal is feeling the weight of bringing a beloved videogame to the screen.

The “Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Wonder Woman 1984” alum leads the upcoming HBO Max series “The Last of Us,” based on the viral game. Pascal stars as Joel, the hero tasked with smuggling tween Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of a quarantine zone to safety across the U.S. in hopes of a cure for the zombie-like plague. Melanie Lynskey, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett also star.

The series hails from “Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin, who revealed that Pascal’s casting came with fan backlash. “The Last of Us” diehard fans were concerned over Pascal’s ability to grow a full beard, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“You’re laughing, but for some people that’s a serious deal-breaker for them!” Mazin said. “They’re like, ‘Oh my God, he can’t even have the same beard as Joel in the game.'”

Pascal admitted that both he and co-star Ramsey were “scared about meeting people’s expectations” during a “super hard” production that involved long hours and “rough material.”

Ramsey added that since fans have been dream casting her character for nearly a decade, she vowed not to look at social media comments once her casting was announced.

“I’m aware of all of it,” Ramsey said. “It was my first experience, really, with a lot of negative reactions.”

“The Last of Us” game creator Neil Druckmann pointed at the different direction the source material takes from other zombie apocalypse franchises.

“We wanted to do the opposite of ‘Resident Evil’ — which I love, but it’s so over-the-top and you’re fighting giant spiders and it’s all about enemy variety,” Druckmann said. “What if it’s about intimate relationships — an exploration of the unconditional love a parent feels for their child and the beautiful things that could come out of that and the really horrible things that could come out of that?”

The teaser for the videogame adaptation series was released on September 26, in honor of “The Last of Us” official Outbreak Day in the video game, marking the first case of the infectious (fictional) virus, the cordyceps fungus. The show premieres January 15.

For all the details on “The Last of Us,” click here.

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