Mahershala Ali Nearly Played Pedro Pascal’s Best Role

The Last of Us voice actor Jeffrey Pierce says that Mahershala Ali was being looked at to play Joel in The Last of Us before Pedro Pascal.

By Michileen Martin | Published

the last of us pedro pascal

Apparently it was almost Mahershala Ali, not Pedro Pascal, playing Joel in HBO Max’s The Last of Us. Jeffrey Pierce — who voices Joel’s brother Tommy in The Last of Us games — recently told The Direct about some of the adaptation ideas that were being floated. Among other things, Pierce revealed that the producers were talking to Ali before Pascal.

The topic came up in reference to Pierce’s hopes that he might play the same role in the live-action series that he plays in the games: Joel’s younger brother. Mahershala Ali’s near involvement came up as Pierce talked about how it increasingly became clear he would not be playing Tommy:

“But that was a long time ago and a lot of white beard in the past. So… I think initially they had talked to Mahershala Ali about playing Joel, which is an obvious cue that I’m not gonna play Tommy… And when they cast Pedro [Pascal], I knew like, yeah, that was certainly not going to happen regardless, I’m older than Pedro Pascal. So I was not under harboring any illusions about that, for sure.”

-Jeffrey Pierce
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Jeffrey Pierce as Perry in The Last of Us

Rather than Jeffrey Pierce, it wound up being Gabriel Luna cast as Tommy in The Last of Us (which is kind of cool – The Mandalorian and The Terminator are bros), but Pierce wasn’t left empty-handed. He appears in two episodes of the HBO Max series as Perry, the white-bearded righthand man to Katherine (Melanie Lynskey) in Kansas City. Things don’t end well for Perry but this is The Last of Us, so that isn’t exactly a rarity.

It would be curious to take a peek into whatever alternate universe Mahershala Ali was ultimately cast as Joel in HBO Max’s The Last of Us. You could argue Ali is one of the first talents to benefit from the age of so-called premiere television. He got his first huge exposure on Netflix‘s House of Cards and went on to deliver incredible performances in critical darling series like Luke Cage and True Detective.

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Mahershala Ali in House of Cards

Mahershala Ali may have passed on the chance to play the grim hero of The Last of Us, but the two-time Oscar winner secured another fan-favorite role. Ali is succeeding Wesley Snipes as the half-vampire monster hunter in the upcoming Marvel film Blade.

Of course, these days with Marvel nothing is for sure, and that goes double with Blade. A few months ago a flurry of reports were released after the original director left the project. Some reports even suggested Mahershala Ali was close to leaving the film.

At last report, the reboot is supposed to begin filming this summer, with a release date of September 6, 2024.