HBO’s upcoming television adaptation of the critically acclaimed “The Last of Us” video game is slowly coming together. Naughty Dog, which developed the PlayStation 4 game, unveiled a first look image of the show on Monday.
The upcoming drama series will be executive produced by the talents behind some of HBO’s most successful projects, as well as the minds behind the video game franchise. Craig Mazin (“Chernobyl”) and Carolyn Strauss (“Chernobyl,” “Game of Thrones”) will executive produce alongside Neil Druckmann (“The Last of Us” and “Uncharted” video game franchises), Evan Wells (Naughty Dog, the game’s development company) and PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizlibash and Carter Swan.
As for casting, HBO alum Bella Ramsey will portray Ellie, one of the two main characters in the original video game. Ramsey previously starred as Lyanna Mormont in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “Wonder Woman 1984”) will portray Joel in the show.
Mazin discussed his work on the HBO series and the challenges of adapting video game IPs for film and television in an interview with IndieWire in August. At the time, Mazin noted that HBO’s willingness to support an adaptation of “The Last of Us” could mark a shift where Hollywood begins to look at video game adaptations with more seriousness.
“I don’t think the folks at HBO were necessarily plugged into the game world, but it would only take them 20 minutes on Google to realize that ‘The Last of Us’ is the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ of video game narratives. Just by dint of the fact that they said ‘yes’ [to a 10-episode first season], you get a feeling that this is going to be different,” Mazin said in an August interview.
The series is written by Mazin and Druckmann, and is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television. PlayStation Productions, Word Games, and Naughty Dog produce. “Beanpole” director Kantemir Balagov has been tapped to direct the pilot for HBO’s adaptation. Jasmila Žbanić and Ali Abbasi will also direct episodes of the show.
“Craig and Neil are visionaries in a league of their own,” Francesca Orsi, executive vice president, HBO Programming, said in a statement on November 20, 2020. “With them at the helm alongside the incomparable Carolyn Strauss, this series is sure to resonate with both die-hard fans of ‘The Last of Us’ games and newcomers to this genre-defining saga. We’re delighted to partner with Naughty Dog, Word Games, Sony and PlayStation to adapt this epic, powerfully immersive story.”
HBO’s synopsis for the upcoming series reads reads: Twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
“The Last of Us” video game was a critical and commercial success for Sony and Naughty Dog. The developer’s 2020 sequel, “The Last of Us Part II” was also a commercial success and sold over 4 million copies within its first weekend. The 2020 sequel was lauded by IndieWire’s David Ehrlich, who wrote that the sequel improved on the original classic in almost every way.
Other details about the series, including a release date, are still under wraps.