Ellen Page Doesn't Appreciate That Naughty Dog 'Ripped Off' Her Likeness For The Last Of Us

When I saw the first trailer for The Last of Us, I don't think I was alone in being shocked at how close the original character model for Ellie resembled Ellen Page. She sounded like her, had the same mannerisms, almost delivered dialogue in the exact same. I actually thought the character was voiced by Ellen Page to begin with.

Then Naughty Dog made a couple of changes to Ellie's facial features, which made her look a little less like Ellen. I assumed it was in response to Beyond: Two Souls, which actually legitimately stars Ellen Page.

But still, Ellie looks and acts like Ellen Page (despite being voiced by voice actress Ashley Johnson). The character is clearly inspired by her performances in other movies.

Now, in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, one user asked Ellen what she thought of the Ellie character in The Last Of Us.

This has almost certainly been made clear to you several times, but are you aware how much you look like Ellie from "The Last of Us," a video game which came out about a week ago. She even sounds like you. So much so that almost everyone assumed it was you playing the role. Which leads me to my questions:
How did you like playing the role of a video game character when doing "Beyond: Two Souls?" Do you prefer live action? Have you seen any footage of "The Last of Us" and would you have taken the role as Ellie if approached?

To which Ellen answered...

I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.

Considering both The Last Of Us and Beyond: Two Souls are PlayStation exclusives published by Sony, I was actually surprised at the response. But she's right — as good as The Last Of Us is, it's a pretty blatant appropriation.


Comments

    I greatly enjoy that her username is “I am a tiny Canadian“.

    I'm surprised there hasn't been legal action over this - it wouldn't be the first time. If you're going to use a person's likeness, you're supposed to license it, just as you would using someones story or art.

      Conflict of interest with Sony.

      Some people aren't complete jerks?

      Why would there be legal action over this? All they have to say is that it is a completely different character ei ellen vs ellie who happens to look and sound similar, however given that Last of us is a fictional story they could not possibly be one and the same. Also there is bound to be atleast one person in the world who looks like every human video game character ever made maybe even a few who look like non human ones. Should the real people be able to sue to game publishers? leading on from that should game publishers therefore be allowed to sue people who happen to look like game characters that are protected under trademark/copyright?
      also a persons likeness isnt protected. If say someones face was used as a logo and trademarked and then another company used something very very similar to sell the same type of product then yes their could be legal action.
      Also wasn't there a case in the US where EA (i think might have been someone else) argued that it was freedom of speech to use a likeness even if it had the same name for the NFL or NBA game.

        Yes it is. You can't use someone in a film, add or anything like that without their permission. That's why people have to sign a release form before they're even an extra on a film set. Otherwise they can sue the production later.

        People have the right to control how their likeness is used even in gaming. There have been lots of film tie-in games where the actor didn't give permission for their likeness to be used. A recent example would be Terminator: Salvation which didn't have Christian Bales' face on the John Connor character.

      Except do you know how many people look the same these days? All they'd have to do is show one photo of another girl who looks near the same and say they got it from her.

      The way a person looks shouldn't be intellectual property, especially if it's natural. Might be able to make that claim if a plastic surgeon designed your face though, but you wouldn't own the rights unless you bought them from the surgeon.

    wasnt there a change made early in development about how ellie look? I swear i read it here a year ago...

      You may also have read it in this very article!

      Then Naughty Dog made a couple of changes to Ellie’s facial features, which made her look a little less like Ellen.

    The thing is, Ashley Johnson and Ellen Page look and sound a lot a like. I actually believe Naughty Dog when they said the likeness was unintentional:

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1310300672/nm0424534

      Yeah I see what you are saying. I think they should just let this go. I agree with her being upset but is it still important considering the similarities? Maybe Ellen Page has let it go seems no legal action has happened.

      hah. she was the waitress from avengers!

      i don't think they look alike but they sound very alike. i doubt naughty dog did it intentionally.

      I think it was definitely intentional to have Ellen Page as a reference point, probably the main point, i mean even her name is almost the same. But i think they leant a little too heavily on it and the character came out almost identical (at first). They could have made her blonde or something to at least throw it off? Joel is kind of an amalgam of different gruff protagonists (Viggo from The Road comes to mind) but the reference(s) they used for Ellie's character development is pretty obvious.

        While I agree that is definitely possible, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, just because Ashley Johnson looks a lot like Ellen Page. I actually think the final model looks less like Ashley than the original 'Ellen Page' model.

    I couldn’t tell you who Ellen Page is just from her name, but I know EXACTLY which actress you are talking about. The likeness is obvious.

    This kind of thing is going to happen more and more often going forward, there’s going to be some really interesting legal issues with game companies taking “inspiration” from individuals. Most of the past instances where this kind of thing has happened have been pretty silly (the ‘Groove is in the heart’ chick suing Sega over Space Channel 5) but I think Ellen would actually have a decent case here if she wanted to pursue it.

    Imagine how f*cked Sony would be if a court put an injunction on the game? I honestly think there’s a pretty good chance a judge would do that if Ellen decided to start proceedings against Sony. Going back and making significant changes to a main character would take a lot of work!

      Naughty Dog was clearly trying to separate the character from the actor to avoid issues and patents are already absurd enough, are we really going to patent a type of 'acting'.

        exactly. theres plenty of people who have similar mannerisms and sound like other people. its bound to happen.

        Why couldn't Naughty Dog just make Ellie look a LOT more different?

          To what ends? I think separating the character is enough.

    While I'll acknowledge that Ellie in TLoU is basically a non-pregnant Juno that wasn't written by hipster douchebags (so basically a strong-willed 14 year old girl that swears), I think it's much more likely that her likeness is actually based on the voice actor who plays the role in the game.

      I couldn't agree more. God, Juno is the worst.

        I never seen it Mark and Matthew but from the bits I have seen I can tell Juno would be garbage in the same way the Twilight movies I have never seen are just garbage.

        Haha pork swords

        im yet to see it either. it got rave reviews from critics but everyone i know seems to hate it. will have to watch it one day and make up my own mind.

          The main problem is that it's overly written. Every line of dialogue is some specially crafted witticism or rant that just reeks of cynicism and smugness, and every character (including Juno and her father) are emotionally disengaged from everything that's happening like nothing that happens is a big deal, which is reinforced at the end of the movie when no one has undergone any kind of character arc and is basically back where they started, minus one fetus.

            I also found that every single character was wholly unlikable.

            OMG! YOU SPOILED THE ENDING!

            MY LIFE IS RUUEEEEEEEENNNEEED! RUUUUEEEEEENNEEEEEDDD!

            :D

    It probably doesn't help that they named the character Ellie.

    The original character model looked a lot more like her than the finished product did.

    Well she is after all a fine example of an earthling female

    Last edited 24/06/13 11:23 am

    Funny because Ellie is a much better, more realized and likable character than anything Ellen Page has ever done.

      Seen Hard Candy? She's done at least one.

        She wasn't likeable in Hard Candy, though.

        But yes, great film.

          Certainly not likeable. One of those characters where you can't help but root for them, though.
          In a manner of speaking ...

            Heh, I see what you did there.

    Makes you wonder about the usage of a 'likeness' though. I mean, to a certain point, it's possible for any given video game character to look like maybe a dozen grizzled, white, male typecast-as-badass actors. Ellie might look a lot like Ellen Page, but she also looks a hell of a lot like a girl I know, and at least a handful I've seen about town on public transport over the last six months. How many Ellen Page lookalikes are out there? How 'distinctive' do you have to be to be able to claim ownership of a 'likeness'? I wonder how this has applied in the past before the digital recreation of people...

      But does the girl you know make money from her likeness being licenced? That's the real point here: Ellen Page is a (somewhat) famous actor whose job is related to her identity, and in some regards her likeness, especially when she is already working on another game where her likeness is being used and she is being paid for it.

      Yeah exactly, if Zooey Deschanel were to star in a game, would Katy Perry then be allowed to file a law suit?

    She looked like Ellen in the first trailer appearance wise, but playing the game she didn't really remind me of her at all, though I haven't seen every Ellen Page movie so...

    Honestly though, if a game featured a character that was so well written that was based on me, I'd be honored, not annoyed.

      But if that was your job; you got paid to act in movies and videogames, where your face and look were part of what you used to make money and someone just used your likeness to make money for themselves by banking on your previous success and marketable identity and basically copying YOU, wouldn't you be a bit pissed? Not only would you have no control over how your likeness is used, and the entire situation (the character's portrayal, the quality of the production etc) but you wouldn't be getting compensated for it.

    I agree that there are plenty of similarities between the two.

    To be honest I think Ellie reflects more of Ashley than Ellen especially if you've seen some of the TV shows/Movies that Ashley has been in. Ashley has been doing a lot of those kind of mannerisms since All-American Girl (1994).

      To be honest, the Ellen Page thing didn't even occur to me until it was pointed out. And to me, Ashley's voice is more recognisable anyway. When I first saw the trailer I was all, "Cool, it's Gwen from Ben 10". I like Ellen Page, but her response kind of annoyed me.

    WAIT WAIT WAIT... Ellie isn't Ellen?

      Haha. Agreed. I thought she was in on it, too!

      Although now that you mention it her voice eerily started to remind me of Ashley Johnson when watching trailers. Character still looks more like Ellen Page than Johnson, but it's hard to unsee what has been seen. Perhaps the likeness was unintentional? Why wouldn't Naughty Dog just approach Page to ask her to be involved...? Not like they're lacking in financials or motivation to do that.

    I remember Last of Us and Beyond Two Souls were announced at the same time. I thought it was odd Ellen Page was going to be in two games at the same time. But yeah...

    I was just watching a behind the scenes video last night where they were talking about the casting of their leads.
    They specifically said that Ellie was written differently but the actresses performance had changed the direction a bit. She added humour and delivered the lines in a way they hadn't thought of. She also asked for Ellie to be more proactive from the start so they changed it.

    Basically this is the actresses choice to perform it in a certain way and her voice happened to sound a bit like Ellens. Does this mean that every actor and actress out there has to be careful that they aren't sued because they have a similar performance or voice to someone else?

    I understand that Ellie does look a bit like Ellen Page but come on. No matter how they made Ellie look, she was bound to look like someone. There isn't an infinite combination of facial features.

    Maybe she's annoyed she ended up in the inevitably shitter Beyond: Two Souls rather than TLoU?

    I didn't even know whe ellen page was before this article, and now that I do I don't see the resemblance.

    Ellen must be kidding herself, she wished she still looked as young and innocent as Ellie - people thinking it is her, she should be flattered people think she still looks that adorable

    LOL, I thought BOTH games are acted by Ellen Page because both games are BOTH exclusive to and published by Sony. I am actually kind of disappointed that they used the appearance of Ellen Page for Ellie in Last of Us but they used a different actor. Shame...

    Boo fricken hoo, lots of people look the same

    All girls and guys look the same. Meh. Probably taken out of context, or said with slight jest.
    Oh well, she did her job and did it well.

    Last edited 24/06/13 7:54 pm

    What is wrong with yall? You're being serious here? You think Ellen Page is that fucking origional that there is no one that looks or acts like her at all? I love her but seriously can she patent her look, attitude and speech delivery? If not this is all really stupid

    Wait.. this is not Ellen Page?

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