Matthew McConaughey Nearly Starred In Television’s Best New Show

Matthew McConaughey was one of the final choices to play Joel on The Last of Us.

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Craig Mazin, co-creator of The Last of Us recently confirmed that Matthew McConaughey was considered at one point for the role of Joel. Of course, Pedro Pascal ended up playing the character instead, and Mazin says he is happy with the decision, noting that the series would be very different with another actor. Fans of the series surely agree with Mazin, as Pascal has proven to be very successful and well-loved in the part.

Matthew McConaughey would have brought a completely different energy to the project, which might have resulted in a very good and popular series. But producers wanted Pascal from the beginning, so they’re glad to have gotten him. It’s in part thanks to the use of a body double for much of his work on The Mandalorian that has made the actor available for the commitment of filming The Last of Us.

At first, Mazin and co-creator Neil Druckmann were told Pascal was unavailable to do the series, leading them to consider Matthew McConaughey. But as things turned out, Pascal was not only able to accommodate the project in his schedule but was enthusiastic about the script. He was shooting a movie in England when he received the script and quickly sent word that he wanted to have a Zoom meeting.

Having talked with Matthew McConaughey’s agent about playing Joel, Mazin, and Druckmann were pleasantly surprised to hear from Pascal. In the Zoom meeting, Mazin says, Pascal was eager and even “insightful.” Mazin calls the meeting the best one he has ever had, noting that there was an immediate connection between all those involved.

the last of us pedro pascal
Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last of Us

The talks with Matthew McConaughey were not extensive, consisting primarily of the actor’s agent saying he might be available, leading Mazin and Druckmann to consider the possibility. But beyond that, it appears that Pascal had really been their first choice and was ultimately the best person for the role. His performance in the series has been widely praised, only adding to his rising prestige as a film and TV star.

It’s interesting to imagine what the series would be like with Matthew McConaughey in the starring role of Joel, especially as he would be certain to have an influence on the tone of the series. His previous work in both action and dramatic roles would surely have prepared him for the part, and he would have brought his own unique perspective and sensibilities to the role. But that version of The Last of Us was not to be.

As Matthew McConaughey prepares for another series—the upcoming Yellowstone follow-up in which he is set to star—it’s clear that he’s found other places to put his energy. For his part, Pedro Pascal seems very happy to be Joel, and Mazin believes the series is better because of the actor’s enthusiastic, committed involvement. While Pascal felt the pressure of coming into a project with such a devoted fanbase already in existence from the video game it is based on, he overcame his fear and now is the best Joel we could ask for.