Video game movies are bad. With a tiny few exceptions, this has been a widely held and unfortunately factual belief. But what about video game TV series? We haven’t had many of those. And now we’re getting one that could potentially set the gold standard which every other entry will be held to as THR reports that HBO has begun development on a TV series adaptation of The Last of US.
Released in 2013 by developer Naughty Dog for PlayStation 3, The Last of Us is a third-person action-adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by an outbreak of mutant fungus that turns humans into aggressive, mindless creatures. In this world of heavily policed quarantined zones, nomadic tribes, and independent settlements we meet Joel (portrayed by prolific video game voice actor Troy Baker), a troubled smuggler who lost his family in the initial outbreak 20 years previously. Joel takes on a job from a local militia group, known as the Fireflies, to smuggle some cargo to one of their holdouts across the country. The cargo, though, is a teenage girl named Ellie (voiced by actress Ashley Johnson) who just may hold the key to saving a humanity driven to the brink of collapse.
Upon its release, The Last of Us won numerous awards, including several Game of the Year titles, thanks to its incredibly deep characters, emotional storytelling, and thrilling action. It’s one of the best-selling games of all time, to date having sold over 17 million copies with another million coming from a remastered version of the game released on PlayStation 4. Its sequel, The Last of Us Part II, is one of the most highly anticipated releases for this year. So with that buzz, it makes sense that HBO is doing this adaptation now.
It’s also a hell of a lot of pressure for any adaptation to live up to. Luckily there are some very capable hands running with this. As THR reports, HBO has tapped Craig Mazin, the brilliant writer behind the cable network’s utterly incredible, award-winning Chernobyl mini-series last year, to develop this TV series adaptation. And in a move that will most definitely make fans happy, Neil Druckmann, The Last of Us’ original writer and director, will be co-writing the show with Mazin and exec producing.
The series will be adapting the engrossing events of the first game as Joel needs to reluctantly escort the 14-year old Ellie through danger and heartbreak across America. However, there’s a possibility that it may also adapt story beats from Druckmann’s upcoming video game sequel, to be released on 29 May 2020.
In a statement, Druckmann spoke about why Mazin was chosen to help adapt this acclaimed video game.
From the first time I sat down to talk with Craig I was equally blown away by his approach to narrative and his love and deep understanding of The Last of Us. With Chernobyl, Craig and HBO created a tense, harrowing, emotional masterpiece. I couldn’t think of better partners to bring the story of The Last of Us to life as a television show.
Mazin also responded about the opportunity he’s been given to work with Druckman.
Neil Druckmann is without question the finest storyteller working in the video game medium, and The Last of Us is his magnum opus. Getting a chance to adapt this breathtaking work of art has been a dream of mine for years, and I’m so honored to do it in partnership with Neil.
This is not the first time an adaptation of The Last of Us has been attempted. Back in 2015, Sony set about developing a feature film adaptation that was to be produced by Sam Raimi and penned by Druckman himself. While two drafts of a script were produced, the adaptation would end up stuck in development hell. Druckmann was no stranger to this as a feature film adaptation of his and Naughty Dog’s equally acclaimed Uncharted video game production had been stuck in the same torturous limbo since 2009. That movie is actually now moving ahead with shooting scheduled to start this month, and now we have this news about The Last of Us. I guess it’s a good time for Druckmann.
Things are still very early in production though, so there are no details about release dates or casting. We can definitely spitball the latter though. Since the news of this adaptation broke, two names have emerged as fan-favourites – and I have to say that they are fantastic picks – with Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for Joel and Booksmart breakout actress Kaitlyn Dever for Ellie. Besides for being great actors, with the Golden Globe-winning Dever being one of the hottest young talents in Hollywood right now, just look at them! How perfect is this?
Who are your picks for the roles of Joel and Ellie? And how do you feel about The Last of Us as a TV series? Sign off in the comments below.
Last Updated: March 6, 2020