If you were looking for any more reassurance that The Last of Us on HBO is going to be good other than you know, everything you’ve seen and heard from it so far, look no further than one of the original actors, Troy Baker.
Baker played Joel across both Last of Us games, and has a supporting role in the new series as a villain. Ashley Johnson, the original Ellie, will play Ellie’s mother in a brief role as well.
Baker, though he has a vested interest in the series, has been raving about both the show and Pedro Pascal’s performance as Joel. Pascal is so good, Baker says, it actually makes him want to go back and change some things about his originally, highly-praised performance, he says.
Here’s Baker on Alanah Pearce’s Play, Watch, Listen podcast:
“What (Pascal) proved is that this character is bigger than any one performance. Man, it’s also earned… I am inspired by Pedro’s performance as Joel. I wish that I could go back and do some things different.”
One thing everyone involved with the show has tried to hammer home all this time is that it’s as faithful to the original as it possibly can be, but recasting Joel and Ellie with new actors was always going to be a gamble. Pedro Pascal took a break from The Mandalorian to come film this other major role, one where he’ll actually be visible this time, but so far, everything we’ve seen from him in the trailers looks like he’s going to be a spot-on Joel. And Baker’s rave reviews are certainly reinforcing that narrative.
As for Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, she’s said that she did not play the games beforehand on purpose because she didn’t want to end up doing just an impression of Ashley Johnson’s performance, and be overly influenced by it. It’s not unusual, though Ramsey has endured more criticism than most in regard to this project where people at baseline don’t think she looks enough like Ellie in the games. But ultimately, it’s performance that matters, and I expect Ramsey will do a great job.
The Last of Us is nearly upon us. The show debuts in just over three weeks on Sunday, January 15, where it will look to be a replacement for House of the Dragon and The White Lotus as HBO’s must-see Sunday night feature. HBO really is treating it like a flagship production, and I really do think we’re in for something significant here, given all the talent on board.
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