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The Last of Us It looks a lot like the video game that inspired it, but don’t make the mistake of damning that with faint praise. The worn-out apocalyptic look of the HBO series is often taken directly from the game, which is known for looking cinematic and full, even at its most brutal and brutal. Everything is depicted in excruciating detail, including Joel, now played by Pedro Pascal. But inside The Last of Us TV show, Joel isn’t quite the man he used to be, and that’s by design.

Some of them are just practical. As part of translating the game to television, co-writers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckman had to update the way Joel interacts with his environment.

“There are certain things that we accept in our environment that are different from the gaming environment. You need a healing mechanic in the game. you get shot a lot, you need to heal. Actually, you shoot once,” laughs Mazin.

To dispel that is to show all the damage a guy like Joel has suffered, physically and emotionally, after Sarah’s death. His knees remain bloody and his body appears to be in pain. Pascal’s Joel doesn’t walk around the same way Joel plays. “Joel walks so stooped that he would have, like, these huge quads, right?” Mazi says: “55-year-olds cannot bend for more than three minutes. Tops! And then their backs give out.

“So we accept the weakness […] I think it helps draw people in this a kind of immersion that is different from the immersion of a video game.”

Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last of Us for HBO

Image: HBO

It also means tweaking Joel’s character ever so slightly. With a long, difficult journey ahead of him, the televised Joel has a different path to take than his character. And viewers who have played the game may notice key differences between its TV counterpart; he no longer uses weapons like he does in the game, but tries to find a battery for his car so he can find Tommy.

“In the game, because of the game, Joel has to be extremely capable of justifying everything you do, and there are certain things we do in the game to make you connect with him, being him,” says Druckman. Polygon. “And that was part of Pedro Pascal’s role as Joel. […] We were looking less for someone who could play a tough guy, because in some ways that’s an easier thing to do, and more for someone who could show that there’s a tortured soul inside.”

The Last of UsThe first episode sets up that struggle for Joel, between the lighter side of his heart and the immense grief, pain and violence that defines his life now. Somehow he is is softer, a choice that will surely play out towards the end of the first game, which has earned its rep for being quite divisive. It’s hard to imagine the game’s Joel, so often defined by his cruel, melting indifference, helping a partner out when they’re overworked moving the baby’s body into the pyre at the beginning of this story.

It was there that Pascal proved to be central to Mazin and Druckman’s vision of who Joel should be on HBO. The Last of Us a hardened but slightly more human concept than his gaming counterpart.

“Pedro is so charismatic and there seems to be a pull, he’s funny, he’s a really funny guy, to suppress all that, when you watch him on screen, it seems like there’s something missing from this guy and you want , to get it out. says Druckman. “Obviously, we see a lot in the beginning and his interaction with Sarah. […] And then when it all goes away and you see it come back over time, it becomes really fascinating to follow this guy, this really damaged guy.”

Pascal remembers the one note he received: “remember to bring [himself] as possible to it.’

“It was the best way to understand Joel, you know, in my heart,” says Pascal. “I found him to be a very hardened person and not someone who thinks about his feelings, even before he loses his daughter or the world ends before his eyes. And that loss kind of solidifies and shapes who he is and how he survives after that.”

The Last of Us It premiered on January 15 on HBO and HBO Max on January 15. New episodes of the nine-episode season air on Sundays.


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