Pedro Pascal, star of “The Last of Us”, talks about how faithful the next series will be to the original video game. “The Last of Us” was first released in 2013 on the PlayStation 3. The zombie survival game was pioneering in its integration of storytelling with active gameplay, blending character depth with worldbuilding and horrific action sequences. The game has received a slew of prizes, including trophies from the VGX and DICE awards, as well as a slew of other gaming-related honors. Given the game’s success and the sequel’s release in 2020, HBO’s announcement that a live-action series adaptation of “The Last of Us“ would be produced came as no surprise.
Pascal plays Joel, a grizzled survivor of a zombie apocalypse caused by a rogue strain of fungus that infects humans’ brains and turns them into hungry creatures known as The Infected, in the series. The plot continues up 20 years after the illness began, after a brief prologue in which Joel loses his daughter. This is when Joel meets Ellie (played by Pacal’s Game of Thrones co-star Bella Ramsey in the series), a young lady who has been infected but has shown no symptoms, leading them on a long quest for survival in the hopes of finding a cure.
Pascal recently spoke with GQ about his new film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which stars Nicolas Cage as himself. Aside from the meta-comedy, the actor talked about “The Last of Us”, addressing whether or not it stays true to the game’s original story. He compares The Mandalorian’s approach to the material to HBO’s, noting that it’s “designed for people who love it,” and that it’s “honoring what’s important” while adding fresh material that will expand the tale while also handling all of the worldbuilding for newcomers who haven’t played the game. Here’s the rest of the quote:
There’s a very, very creative way of honoring what’s important and also preserving what is iconic to the experience of the video game, and also [to include] things that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. And then directions that you would expect it to go, and it might not… they’re doing some really smart things, is all I can say. It’s similar to the way Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni treat The Mandalorian, in how [Mazin and Druckmann] are treating The Last of Us — it’s in good hands because they love it so much. Well, clearly Neil created the video game, but Craig loves it so much. So it really is made for the people that love it. And there’s some very intense storytelling for people who might be less familiar.
“The Last of Us” may change the tale slightly in the process of transferring the game to a new format, but it will face far fewer obstacles than similar shows like Paramount+’s live-action Halo remake. Although the Halo game series is rich in backstory and worldbuilding, it is essentially a first-person shooter that lacks the depth of plot required for a long-running narrative format. “The Last of Us”, on the other hand, does not have this issue because its ground-breaking plot is intrinsically cinematic.
“The Last of Us'” largest departures from the source game is likely to be driven by the television format’s requirements rather than a desire to improve or expand on the topic. For example, the series would most likely elaborate on the stories of side characters from the game, allowing for numerous narratives to run concurrently, which is considerably more important on TV than in a game. There may possibly be some minor changes to settings and people to make them more believable in live-action, but if they stay on the game’s roadmap, they’re almost likely to have a success story on their hands.