Spoilers for the eight-year-old game The Last of Us and its year-old sequel The Last of Us Part II follow. Reader discretion is advised.
HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us recently began filming in Calgary earlier this month, and as production finally gets underway, more casting gets unveiled. Deadline reports that Bill, the less than lovable, paranoid man that Joel and Ellie cross on their journey across the country, will be played by Con O’Neil, most recently known for playing Viktor Bryukhanov in Chernobyl.
Bill’s casting is one thing, as he was an expected presence in the game-turned-prestige-television. The interesting casting is Murray Bartlett as Frank, Bill’s partner that we never actually met in the game. By the time Joel and Ellie were anywhere near Frank, he’d taken his own life after being bitten by the series’ zombie-like infected. While the cinematic video game’s adaptation might have seemed redundant given the game’s use of movie-like direction and cutscenes, the show can fill some gaps that are left open by the game. Such as allowing us to see Bill and Frank’s relationship in real-time, rather than having it told to us by Bill after the fact. So this is kind of exciting. Although, since it was such an important thematic story beat in the game, I can’t imagine the HBO show undoing Frank’s demise. This is a shame because it’s one of the earliest examples of something that nearly became a pattern for The Last of Us, in that it had a propensity to kill off queer characters in one way or another, feeding into the “bury your gays” trope. The sequel, The Last of Us Part II, notably didn’t do this to any of its queer main characters, though Naughty Dog and Sony tried their damndest to make it seem like they were going to in its marketing.
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Also, Jeffrey Pierce, who voices Joel’s brother Tommy in the game, will be appearing in the show as a recurring character named Perry, who seems to be an original character made for the show. The Last of Us’ HBO adaptation has involved actors who were part of the games already, as Merle Dandridge is set to reprise her role as Marlene in the series. Tommy, however, will be played by Gabriel Luna in the show.
Joel and Ellie will be played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey respectively.