‘The Final of Us’ HBO Adaptation Goes Method Past the PlayStation Recreation

For author Craig Mazin, the scariest second in HBO’s The Final of Us is not the Clickers, Bloaters or any of the opposite horrors from the legendary Sony PlayStation sport the sequence is tailored from. It is a lone scientist realizing {that a} fungal mind an infection will cut back a lot of the world’s inhabitants into savage cannibals, in a flashback that wasn’t seen within the sport or its 2020 sequel.

“That is terrifying to me,” he informed me in a Zoom interview forward of the present’s Jan. 15 premiere on HBO Max. “It grounds all the pieces, and the extra we are able to make the peripheral really feel actual, the extra the middle will really feel actual.” 

Mazin utilized that very same curiosity to a real-life catastrophe in creating 2019’s acclaimed Chernobyl, however The Final of Us flashbacks and pseudo-scientific trigger have been derived from speaking to sequence co-writer Neil Druckmann. As the sport’s author, inventive director and co-president of developer Naughty Canine, Druckmann relished the chance to increase its universe past what we see within the video games by way of an knowledgeable’s response to this apocalyptic revelation.

“Not solely is it scary to listen to the scientist say it is over, however the second the place she accepts it for herself and seeing the drama on her face is one thing distinctive for this [adaptation] that I am so glad we’re capable of present,” he stated.

The flashbacks aren’t the one change followers of the sport will discover although — the timeline has been shifted so the outbreak occurred in 2003 (moderately than the sport’s 2013), with the postapocalyptic narrative occurring in 2023 (as an alternative of 2033). As a result of the sport came about the 12 months it got here out, Mazin and Druckmann agreed that the chronological repositioning made sense because it did not essentially change the story.

“If I am watching a present within the 12 months 2023 and it takes place in 2043, it is just a bit much less actual. I believed it could be fascinating to only say, ‘Hey, look, on this parallel universe, that is taking place proper now.’ So it was actually nearly serving to individuals join just a little bit extra,” Mazin stated.

“Virtually talking, it did not change a lot apart from giving us a barely totally different palette of props, set design and automobile selection. Curiously, as we go on by way of the sequence, we maintain discovering new locations and new relics of the previous world, [always] coming again to that 2003 vibe.”

Pushed by grief

Additional grounding the story is relatable human drama at its core. Over the primary season’s 9 episodes, we comply with curmudgeonly smuggler Joel Miller, who’s been charged with escorting cheerful teen Ellie throughout a postapocalyptic US (we cannot say why, to keep away from spoilers). The pair are performed by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

Pedro Pascal holds a flashlight in a dark space in The Last of Us.

Pedro Pascal says Joel is “formed by loss.”


Pascal, whom you may know from Recreation of Thrones and The Mandalorian, stated that the tragic loss Joel endured because the outbreak started continues to drive him 20 years later.

“He is fully pushed by trauma, and all the pieces that he does, for higher or worse, is formed by that loss and never experiencing that type of loss once more. It is one thing, sadly, so many people can relate to,” he informed me on Zoom. 

“It is wonderful to step into an adaptation of a beloved supply materials that has such an emotional human story on the middle of it, to make it all of the extra painful. Which we apparently love, as viewers members … we’re masochistic.”

Fellow Recreation of Thrones alumnus Ramsey famous that Ellie perceives Joel’s ache, which leads to them forming a bond on their journey. 

Ellie sits in a room with grass on the floor as Tess talks to her in The Last of Us.

Mysterious teen Ellie (left) is central to the story, and characters like Tess (proper) quickly find out how vital she is.


“Ellie is conscious that there is one thing up with this man — there’s extra to him, he isn’t only a grumpy asshole for the sake of it,” the actor stated. “She sees a shared expertise; Ellie’s misplaced a really key particular person in her life [as well]. Whenever you see somebody who’s been by way of one thing like that too, you need to join with them [even though] Joel may be very immune to it.”

Greater than surviving

The duo are searching for Joel’s idealistic brother Tommy, who’s discovered a function making an attempt to fix this horrifying world. He is performed by Gabriel Luna, identified for his roles in Marvel’s Brokers of SHIELD and Terminator: Darkish Destiny.

A concerned Tommy holds a rifle and gazes off camera in The Last of Us.

Characters like Tommy discover new function in a ruined world.


“He wishes what his brother has at the start, which is household — to plant a seed and watch it develop,” Luna informed me over video chat. “He is searching for a world the place you possibly can dwell with nature, and it is not making an attempt to actively kill you on a regular basis. He believes that we are able to actually get again to it.”

Seemingly spearheading that return to civilization are the Fireflies, a bunch of rebels pushing again in opposition to the army’s harsh authoritarian management over survivors. They’re led by Marlene, who’s performed by Sons of Anarchy and The Flight Attendant actor Merle Dandridge. She informed me that the Fireflies symbolize “hope,” as they hunt for a option to give individuals their autonomy again.

Marlene clutches a gunshot wound in her stomach as her ally looks on in The Last of Us.

Merle Dandridge (left) performs Marlene within the video games and the present.


This casting selection will delight followers of the video games, since she portrayed Marlene within the video games. (Joel and Ellie sport actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson additionally present up in unrevealed roles.) She additionally confirmed that the work she did for the 2013 authentic proved helpful when she was returning to the function within the present, however the legendary standing the sequence achieved within the years since opened up new avenues to discover.

“I completely did revisit the preparation. And checked in with Neil to ensure I bought it proper, as a result of over time, your reminiscence might erode the precise information,” she stated. “The good present of getting an current supply materials that’s so liked, broadly performed and broadcast in all places is which you could return, have a look at it and [immerse yourself in its rich world].”

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