Movies based on video games don’t have the best track record, but TV shows based on video games still have a relatively clean slate.
There’s an endless number of video game adaptations coming down the pipe, including big-name projects like Amazon’s Fallout series and Paramount’s Halo TV show. Though none may be more anticipated than HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us.
HBO announced its The Last of Us project over a year ago and the show has been picking up steam as it heads into filming. While details are still thin on the ground, here’s everything we do know about the series so far.
The Last of Us and The Last of Us 2 are beloved games, so meddling with them in any way would be quite a risk for HBO. However, there are a few positive signs that this adaptation is set to be a good one.
For starters, The Last of Us game director and Naughty Dog co-president, Neil Druckmann, is onboard as an executive producer. There’s pretty much no one else in the world who knows The Last of Us games like Druckmann, so it’s in safe hands there.
He’s also working with a long-time fan of the games and award-winning Chernobyl writer, Craig Mazin, who we know can write a damn good TV show.
The series has hired relatively unknown directors so far. Kantemir Balagov (Beanpole) is helming the pilot episode and Jasmila Zbanic (Quo Vadis, Aida) and Ali Abbasi (Border) also taking episodes in the series.
Gustavo Santaolalla, who gave us The Last of Us’ excellent soundtrack, will also be back to compose music for the show.
HBO itself has a strong track record of producing high-quality genre shows, including Game of Thrones, Westworld and Watchmen. Here’s hoping the studio’s breadth of experience follows through here. Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions are also on board behind the scenes.
Will the TV show be different to the games?
Many fans can attest to the fact that The Last of Us games are already very cinematic, in terms of acting, narrative and visuals. So, translating this into a TV show shouldn’t be that hard, right?
This is the plot synopsis according to the HBO announcement:
The story takes place twenty years after modern civilisation 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.
That sure does sound like The Last of Us.
The announcement also notes that the series will “cover the events of the original game” with the “possibility of additional content” based on The Last of Us 2.
Neil Druckmann revealed in an interview with IGN that the first season of the show will cover the events of the first game.
Druckmann said things in the show will stick pretty closely to the game for the most part. However, some things will differ greatly due to the differences between mediums.
“Some of my favourite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them,” he said. Whether the audience agrees will be a different question.
Should there be another season of The Last of Us we can assume that will take us into the events of Part II. Given there’s a five-year time gap between games that leaves plenty of room to expand upon those lost years in the TV show.
The Last of Us TV show: Cast
Joel and Ellie are incredibly popular and well-written characters. They were portrayed by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson in both video games, but neither actor will be carrying on their character in the TV show.
Ramsay seems to be a perfect fit given her breakout performance as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones basically stole the show. She was able to bring both fire and vulnerability to her role and we’re sure to see her take more of that to the role of Ellie.
Pascal has similarly spent plenty of time shepherding a young companion across the galaxy in The Mandalorian so we know he can pull off the reluctant dad role.
Con O’Neill is set to play another survivor Bill while Murray Bartlett guest stars as his partner Frank, who we never actually met during the events of the game.
Some actors from the games have also managed to make the jump to the HBO show.
The Last of Us TV show: release date
Filming for HBO’s The Last of Us is currently taking place in Canada, and is likely to continue for the rest of the year. Based on that, expect to be waiting a long time for that first episode to drop.
This filming schedule signals a late 2022 or early 2023 release at best. The episode count isn’t confirmed but is expected to be made up of 10 (very expensive) episodes in the first season.
The Last of Us will debut on HBO and HBO Max in the US, which makes it a likely candidate for Binge here in Australia.
Watch this space for more updates as we get closer to the premiere of The Last of Us TV series.
This article has been updated with additional information.