With the announcement that HBO is producing an adaptation of The Last of Us Dylan and Ashley decided to do some fan-casting of their own.
I’ve always had Joel Edgerton as my fan-cast to play Joel in any adaption of The Last of Us. When I watched 2017’s It Comes At Night I saw Edgerton creeping closer to how I’d have him performing/looking to play Joel and knew my fan-cast was on the right track. For my Ellie pick, I have Elsie Fisher but she’s a very recent thought. I watched Eighth Grade not long ago and seeing her fantastic performance in that movie I know she could get the teen-angst necessary to play Ellie alongside the vulnerability. And then to round out the family as Tommy I’d have Joel Kinnaman because he can play a leader type and a strong man.
Playing the leader of the Fireflies I want Regina King after her amazing and layered performance in Watchmen. I’d assume in this series we’d get more time with key characters and Marlene would have to be one of them. The series could even open up the possibility of telling dual stories and not focusing solely on Joel and Ellie. Similarly, I’d expect to get more time with Tess and Hannah John-Kamen has the hard-ass ability to play that role well and bring something special to it. I’d also expect to get more time with Bill in the show since he’s a well-loved fan favourite character from the game and Jeffery Wright has the warmth to bring to that character as well as the ability to look dangerous and a survivor.
I’d expect David to get a much bigger role in the series as well simply because the series needs the main villain at some point and introducing him earlier and allowing him to get closer to Joel and Ellie at first could make his eventual reveal as a horrific human come as a bigger shock. William Fichtner has the ability to appear super likable but then turn and be super-hatable.
With these two final roles, I’m not sure about how much air-time they’d see in the adaption. The opening level of The Last of Us is super-important and devastating but I don’t think it may work better in the show to save that reveal and moment until later in the series. Either way, Sarah needs to be super-likable for the audience as her death needs to be devastating. Julia Butters proved she has the acting chops to work alongside actors four times her age in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and by the time they start shooting this series she’d be close enough to Sarah’s age in the game. Similarly, I have Marsai Martin down as Riley, who plays Ellie’s love-interest in the Left Behind DLC. I think including this story in some form in the show is super-important to Ellie’s character, but I’m not sure where you’d place it. A random flashback seems like a bad way to just tack it on. Either way, I think Martin has the charm to play Riley and would love to see her in the role.
The Last of Us being adapted into a TV series is an exciting proposition. We have a string of failed big video game films but not any memorable TV failures, although that may be mainly due to a number of projects being stuck in development hell (*cough*Halo*cough*). The Last of Us seems like a no brainer for a TV adaptation with one of the most well-regarded video games narratives ever and a format that will give it the proper time to breathe.
While there have been a lot of bigger name actors bandied about on Twitter or in forums, my pick to play Joel would be Matthew Rhys. The Emmy Award-winning actor is most well known for his lead performance in The Americans but it was his part in A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood that brought him to my mind. In that film, he plays a jaded man who meets someone who he is initially confrontational with before building an important relationship. Sound familiar? Sure Ellie is no Mister Rogers but I could definitely see Matthew Rhys bringing Joel’s journey to live-action.
Elsie Fisher is my pick for Ellie. While she may not seem like the most obvious choice, I think she would bring the much need heart to the role. If you haven’t seen Eighth Grade, there is one scene in a car that was very hard to watch because you cared for her character and didn’t want to see anything bad happen to her. That was in just 80 minutes or so. Imagine how much she could make you care for her after several episodes before encountering someone like David.
With The Last of Us coming to TV, we should expect to see expanded roles for the supporting cast. I could definitely see them fleshing out the series with flashbacks or filling us in on what characters are doing before we meet them. The obvious case would be David and his gang. You would only need to include a scene or two each episode, possibly building towards them finally reaching their breaking point before meeting Joel and Ellie. If done in the same way they were building up the BTK Strangler in Mindhunter, it could be very effective. I think Lee Pace would be an interesting choice for David as he is generally a likable actor (when he isn’t in makeup or CGI) but has it in him to be the sinister character David ends up being.
For the roles of Tess and Marlene, I’ve picked Tatiana Maslany and Renée Elise Goldsberry. Despite being an Emmy Award winner and delivering multiple brilliant roles in Orphan Black, Hollywood has not really come calling for Tatiana Maslany. Tess would provide a good platform to showcase how good she can be with a property that will be huge. If the show were to incorporate flashbacks, we could see more moments with her, like how she met Joel and even earlier. With Renée Elise Goldsberry, I’ll admit that I may have been swayed a bit by recent photos of her Altered Carbon but she is a Tony Award winner and has a good resume.
Emile Hirsh is an actor who we thought was perhaps going to be a bigger star than he is after his roles in Into The Wild and the incredibly underrated Speed Racer. After a small but noticeable role in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, I think he has what it takes to make a good Tommy and would be a good step to bigger things. The role that made me think that Rainn Wilson would make a good Bill is his part in Star Trek: Discovery as a young Harry Mudd. The look of him in that role fits perfectly and I feel like Rainn would hit this role out of the park.
Riley is a character that I would suspect we would only see if the series does decide to implement flashbacks. Cutting back to her and Ellie would be interesting and obviously their encounter is important for Ellie and would colour the narrative differently with that included. I picked Amandla Stenberg who was praised for her role in The Hate U Give and I think she would be a good fit.
Finally, we come to Sarah. Let me just say what we are all thinking: if this series does not open almost identically to the game, why are they even bothering to make this? That first section of the game is such a gut punch and heartbreaking start that to do anything else would be blasphemous. I’ve picked Alyvia Alyn Lind for the short-lived series Daybreak for Sarah because in that show she has the sass that we see a glimpse of at the start of the game with Joel but was also able to make you care for her in that show even though she could be a bit abrasive. Again, I could see her having an expanded role through flashbacks with Joel or even Tommy, but if they can make her death just as effective on TV as it was in the game, we will now that we are set for good things.
Let us know who you’d cast in the comments below, or if you just straight up hate some of our picks.