Maisie Williams was in the running to play Ellie in The Last of Us

The Last of Us creator, Neil Druckmann, recently sat down to discuss his journey to put the title on the screen.

The Last of Us is one of the finest video games ever created, enjoying both critical acclaim as well as commercial success over the years following its release in 2013. The title was one of the best-selling titles at the time with over 1.3 million units sold in the first week and won numerous Game of the Year awards, among others. Alongside its sequel, The Last of Us Part II, the title has sold over 37 million copies since its launch and a third installment is believed to be on the way.

last of us
Bella Ramsey stars as Ellie in HBO's The Last of Us adaptation

The Hollywood Reporter recently published a feature article about the show’s creators and stars which laid bare all that went into making the series. In the article, the game’s creator as well as co-showrunner of the series, Neil Druckmann, revealed he had developed a film adaptation with Screen Gems, with Sam Raimi attached to direct.

Apart from putting together a script, Druckmann also worked on casting for the film. He had a conversation with Maisie Williams, from Game of Thrones, as well as Kaitlyn Dever, from Justified to portray Ellie, the 14-year-old girl at the heart of the game’s story. Dever even went as far as doing a table read for the film.

Unfortunately, the project did not come to fruition and the rights eventually reverted back to Naughty Dog, the game’s development company to Druckmann’s delight. Following this, the writer and creative director gave up on ever seeing his creation on screen but then he saw Craig Mazin’s HBO creation Chernobyl which captured his vision for an adaptation of the game. He reached out to Mazin and they met to discuss a potential live-action TV show adaptation of the game. The duo was on the same page regarding a potential adaptation and they then pitched their idea to a trio of HBO executives.

The Last of Us is set to debut on January 15.

HBO bought the adaptation and the duo got to work writing the first season. They also set out to cast the actors that will bring the show’s characters to life. According to them, the hardest role to fill was that of Ellie. Druckmann had lined up potential actresses to portray the character while he was working on a movie adaptation. However, they were too old by the time HBO ordered a television adaptation.

According to the article, the showrunners was looking for an actress who was "tough and vulnerable and wise beyond [their] years and also have a potential for violence." Finding the perfect actress was a tough ask with Mazin and Druckmann going through dozens of potential fits until they came upon Bella Ramsey, another Game of Thrones alumna. They both agreed she was perfect for the role and cast her as the character.

Apart from Ramsey, the show will star Pedro Pascal, Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, and Merle Dandridge as Joel, Tommy, Tess, and Marlene respectively.

The show’s first season will cover the entirety of the 2013 game. And while the adaptation will be highly faithful to the game, it will also feature "some radical changes to the game’s story that will shock and perhaps challenge fans."

The Last of Us will premiere on January 15 on HBO Max and HBO.

Tobi Oguntola

Tobi is an avid reader with interest in everything entertainment. He also loves the big screen as it fuels his overactive imagination. When he is not reading a fantasy, sci-fi, or thriller novel, he is listening to music, watching TV, or surfing the internet. Tobi is on Steam as tobioguntola.
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