The Last of Us (TV series)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Last of Us
GenrePost-apocalyptic
Based onThe Last of Us
by Naughty Dog[a]
Developed by
Written by
  • Craig Mazin
  • Neil Druckmann
Starring
ComposerGustavo Santaolalla
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producers
Production locationsAlberta, Canada
Cinematography
  • Ksenia Sereda
  • Eben Bolter
  • Christine A. Maier
Production companies
DistributorWarnerMedia Entertainment
Release
Original networkHBO

The Last of Us is an upcoming American post-apocalyptic television series that is set to air on HBO. Based on the 2013 video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog, the series will follow Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. It will also feature Tommy (Gabriel Luna), Joel's younger brother and a former soldier.

The series, said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, began filming in Calgary, Alberta, in July 2021 and is expected to end in June 2022. It is the first HBO series to be based on a video game, and is a joint production by Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Naughty Dog, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games. The first season will consist of ten episodes written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann; the latter wrote and directed the game. Original game composer Gustavo Santaolalla will compose the score, and Kantemir Balagov will direct the pilot episode. The first season is expected to debut in 2022.

Cast and characters

Main

Pascal, Ramsey, and Luna will portray the show's lead characters, Joel, Ellie, and Tommy, respectively.
  • Pedro Pascal as Joel, a hardened survivor who is tormented by the trauma of his past. Joel is tasked with smuggling a young girl out of a quarantine zone, and eventually across the United States. Pascal became available for a new series after the release of the second season of The Mandalorian; the vacancy attracted several offers from large networks, of which he chose The Last of Us.[2] Pascal is reportedly earning $600,000 per episode, making him one of the highest paid American television stars.[3] In the video games, Joel is portrayed by Troy Baker.[4]
  • Bella Ramsey as Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who displays defiance and anger but has a private need for kinship and belonging. She is immune to the Cordyceps brain infection and may be the key to creating a vaccine.[5] In keeping with the games, the character is lesbian.[6] Ramsey received news of her casting during production on a different project. She said that the show feels "like the biggest thing I have ever done".[7] In the video games, Ellie is played by Ashley Johnson.[4]
  • Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Joel's younger brother and a former soldier who maintains idealism in his hope for a better world.[8] About a month after the casting of Pascal and Ramsey, Luna was asked to submit an audition tape; he was accepted the following day. According to Luna, the show's executives instantly knew that he was "the one".[9] Luna was enthusiastic for the role, having lived in Austin, Texas—Joel and Tommy's hometown—around the same time as the game's setting.[9] Luna was given a PlayStation 5 during production to play the games as research.[10] In the video games, Tommy is played by Jeffrey Pierce.[11]

Recurring

  • Merle Dandridge as Marlene, the head of the Fireflies, a resistance movement hoping to gain freedom from the military. Dandridge reprises her role from the video games.[12]
  • Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, a rebel in a quarantine zone. Pierce previously portrayed Tommy in the video games.[13] Perry is an original character in the show who, according to Pierce, "has huge implications for things that did occur in the game".[14]
  • Anna Torv as Tess, a hardened survivor and Joel's smuggler partner.[15] In the first game, Tess is played by Annie Wersching.[16]

Guest

Actors cast in undisclosed roles include Graham Greene, Elaine Miles, and Rutina Wesley.[22] Brad Leland claimed that he had filmed some scenes for the show by October 2021.[23] The show will also feature the character Maria,[24] as well as Clickers, humans who have been heavily infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus.[25]

Production

Development

36 year-old man with curly black hair and a beard smirking at the camera.
57 year-old man looking at something below the camera.
Writer Neil Druckmann (left) and composer Gustavo Santaolalla (right), who both worked on the video games, are returning to work on the series

After the release of Naughty Dog's video game The Last of Us in 2013, two film adaptations were attempted: a feature film written by the game's writer and creative director Neil Druckmann and produced by Sam Raimi entered development hell,[26] and an animated short film adaptation by Oddfellows was canceled by Sony.[27] In March 2020, a television adaptation was announced in the planning stages at HBO, expected to cover events of this game and possibly some parts of its sequel, The Last of Us Part II (2020). Alongside Druckmann, Craig Mazin was named to help write and executive produce the series, while television producer Carolyn Strauss and Naughty Dog president Evan Wells were announced as additional executive producers,[28] and Gustavo Santaolalla, who worked on the games, was announced as the show's composer.[29] The show was announced as a joint production of Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Naughty Dog;[30] it is the first show produced by PlayStation Productions.[28][31] The show is produced under the company name Bear and Pear Productions.[32][33][34]

Johan Renck was announced as an executive producer and the director of the pilot episode in June 2020;[35] by November 2020, he had dropped out due to scheduling conflicts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[36][37] HBO greenlit the series on November 20, 2020. PlayStation Productions's Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan were named executive producers, and Word Games was added as a production company.[30] In January 2021, The Mighty Mint joined production, and Kantemir Balagov was announced as the pilot episode's director.[38] According to Balagov's professional partner Alexander Rodnyansky, the director has been interested in adapting the game for several years. Rodnyansky claimed that Balagov will direct several episodes of the show.[39] Mazin said that Balagov will direct "the first few episodes".[40]

Rose Lam was added as an executive producer in February 2021.[8] Pre-production for the series in Calgary, Alberta began on March 15, 2021, according to the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC);[41] Mazin arrived in Calgary in May.[42] Ali Abbasi and Jasmila Žbanić were announced as additional directors in April 2021.[43] In July 2021, Mazin said that the first season will consist of ten episodes and said that two more directors were yet to be announced;[44] the DGC revealed later in July that Peter Hoar was assigned to direct,[32] followed in August by Mazin,[33] and in September by Druckmann.[45][46] Paul Becker is set to choreograph the series,[47] and Barrie Gower will act as prosthetics designer.[48] Visual effects studio DNEG are also involved with the series.[49]

The Last of Us is said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, expected to generate over CA$200 million in revenue for Alberta.[50][51][52] According to Damian Petti, president of the Canadian artists union IATSE 212, the show's budget exceeds CA$10 million per episode;[52] Alberta premier Jason Kenney was reportedly told that the budget could reach CA$200 million per year.[53] The production team includes five art directors and hundreds of technicians.[52] Rodnyansky said that the show is set to last several seasons,[39] while Kenney claimed that it could last as many as eight;[53] Mazin suggested that a second season is likely if the first is well received.[54] Druckmann said that the first season will cover the events of the first game.[25] According to The Hollywood Reporter and Balagov's Instagram biography, the first season is expected to begin airing on HBO in 2022.[55][56]

Casting

Two men with dark hair, both wearing thick jackets, embracing each other.
Pedro Pascal (left) and Gabriel Luna (right) on set in Canmore, Alberta in November 2021

For International Women's Day on March 8, 2020, Druckmann confirmed that several of the characters from the games would appear in the show, including Ellie, Riley, Tess, Marlene, and Maria.[24] On February 10, 2021, Pascal and Ramsey were cast as Joel and Ellie, respectively.[2][5] Earlier that day, it was reported that Mahershala Ali was offered the role of Joel after Matthew McConaughey turned it down;[57] The Hollywood Reporter noted that Ali "did circle a role" in the show, but a deal was never formed.[5] It was announced that Gabriel Luna was cast in a lead role as Tommy on April 15, 2021,[58] and Dandridge was confirmed to reprise her role of Marlene from the video games on May 27.[12] In May 2021, Classic Casting circulated a casting call for extras from Calgary, Fort Macleod, High River, and Lethbridge; anyone over 18 could apply, and those with vehicles from 1995 to 2003 were recommended.[59] It was announced that Parker was cast as Sarah on June 30, 2021.[17] Pierce, Bartlett, and O'Neill's casting as Perry, Frank, and Bill, respectively, was announced on July 15,[13] followed by Torv's as Tess on July 22.[15] On December 5, Bartlett claimed that Offerman would appear on the show in a role close to his;[60] two days later, Offerman was announced to be playing Bill, replacing O'Neill who was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.[20] On December 9, Žbanić revealed the casting of Greene, Miles, and Wesley.[22] Reid's casting as Riley Abel was announced on January 14, 2022.[21]

Writing

Mazin and Druckmann are writing the series.[28] Mazin, a fan of the video game, was introduced to Druckmann through Shannon Woodward, a mutual friend who portrayed Dina in Part II. Druckmann, a fan of Mazin's series Chernobyl, was originally working on a film adaptation of the game; Mazin felt that it required the length and pacing of a television series, and Druckmann agreed.[61] Mazin said that the series may represent a paradigm shift for film and television adaptations of video games due to the strength of the narrative, noting that "it would only take [HBO executives] 20 minutes on Google to realize that The Last of Us is the Lawrence of Arabia of video game narratives".[62] Mazin said that the changes being made for the adaptation "are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but enhance".[63] He noted that the series was avoiding episodic storylines, such as random encounters not present in the original story. He added that content that was cut from the game will be added to the show, including one "jaw drop" moment that Druckmann described to him.[64] Druckmann noted that some of the show's scripts borrow dialogue directly from the game, while others deviate more significantly; some of the game's action-heavy tutorial sequences will be changed to focus more on the show's character drama, at the request of HBO.[25]

According to Luna, the show's outbreak takes place in 2003;[9] in the game, it occurs in 2013.[65]

Filming

Filming took place in High River and Fort Macleod in July 2021, in Downtown Edmonton in October, and in Canmore and Calgary in November.

Filming for the series began in Calgary, Alberta on July 12, 2021, and is scheduled to end on June 8, 2022;[41][66] it was originally scheduled to begin on July 5, 2021.[67] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew had to quarantine for two weeks after entering Canada.[7] Mazin noted that cinematographer Ksenia Sereda, a frequent collaborator of Balagov's, would likely work on the series with Balagov,[37] who confirmed her involvement in August 2021;[68] she also worked under Druckmann's direction.[69] In June, Eben Bolter revealed that he would act as a director of photography on the show,[70] working alongside Hoar.[71] Balagov posted an image of himself and Pascal in Calgary on June 29;[72] Luna posted a photo from set of himself alongside Balagov, Pascal, Parker, and Sereda on July 2.[73]

Technical rehearsals in the town of Fort Macleod took place in the evenings of May 20 and June 18, 2021, requiring the closure of Main Street.[74][75] Preparations in the town took place from July 5–12.[75][76] On July 12, the council of High River approved the production team's request to film in the former Beachwood area between July 12 and October 31;[77] in exchange, the production paid CA$100,000 to the town of High River for community funding, which was ultimately split between the High River Bike Park Society (80%) and Spitzee School (20%). The production team removed three trees in the area, for which they reimbursed the town an additional CA$15,000 for its tree budget.[78] Filming in High River took place in the evenings of July 13–19, including some driving scenes requiring traffic detours.[79] Filming later took place in Fort Macleod from July 19–24.[75][76][80] Several storefronts were changed to fit the show;[81] the production team polled businesses and residents in preparation for filming.[75] Onlookers on set identified Austin, Texas police cars, leading them to believe that the scenes were recreating the game's prologue.[82]

Production returned to High River in the evening of July 29 to the following morning, with the filming of a traffic jam requiring the closure of a highway interchange and rerouting of traffic.[77] Filming moved to Calgary in August.[83] A small street of brick buildings was constructed near Stampede Park for use in production;[51] images of the set shared online in August and September were believed to recreate a quarantine zone in Boston, as depicted in the game's opening act.[84][85] Balagov's episodes had completed production by August 30, 2021.[68] In September, Torv confirmed that she was in Canada filming her scenes.[86] For The Last of Us Day on September 26, HBO shared the first image of Pascal and Ramsey in costume.[87] Hoar's episodes completed production on October 5, 2021.[71]

Filming took place in and around Rice Howard Way in Downtown Edmonton from October 2–18, 2021, requiring the closure of sidewalks between October 12–14;[88] Pascal reportedly filmed establishing shots in the area in early October,[34] and returned for full production later in the month alongside Ramsey and Torv.[34][89] The location is expected to replicate a post-apocalyptic Boston,[34][90] and was set up with a large crater in front of an Italian restaurant and a green screen for the skyline. The production crew approached several local businesses, converting one into a ruined salon and asking another if they would permit a stunt performer to fly through the front window. The crew shut down the location and compensated participating businesses. Production also took place at the Alberta Legislature Building,[34] which was dressed with vines and greenery.[88] The show's recreation of the Cordyceps fungus was spotted during production in late October.[91] Production reportedly spent around CA$372,000 for a four-day shoot in Edmonton.[92]

Druckmann's episodes completed production by November 7, 2021.[69] The town of Canmore, Alberta was used to replicate Jackson, Wyoming, the location of Tommy's community in the game.[93][94] Production occurred in the town throughout November, with preparations from November 1–16 and streets closed from November 15–20;[93] approximately 300 extras were used.[92] The location will reportedly be used in the seventh episode of the show.[94] Most businesses in the town signed agreements regarding the show's impact, with the production paying between CA$1,000 and CA$1,500 per day.[92] Pascal, Ramsey, and Luna were present in the town,[95][96] and horses were brought onto set for use in the show.[97] Filming occurred at Mount Royal University and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), both located in Calgary, in late November,[98] expected to recreate the fictional University of Eastern Colorado from the game.[99] Snow was removed at SAIT and foliage was added to both locations to produce an autumnal setting.[98] Žbanić's episodes completed production by December 9, 2021. Frequent collaborator Christine A. Maier worked as cinematographer for Žbanić's episodes.[22]

Music

Santaolalla will compose the score for the television series.[29] Santaolalla said that Latino viewers "will recognize touches" of his music.[100] He drew on his experiences in film and television, having composed the themes and some tracks for Jane the Virgin (2014–2019) and Making a Murderer (2015–2018).[100]

Notes

  1. ^ The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Neil Druckmann was the writer and creative director, and Bruce Straley was the game director.[1]

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