In The Last of Us, Pedro Pascal will play Joel Miller, who lost his only daughter Sarah to a case of mistaken identity wrecking him to the point of self-imposed nihilism. He threw himself into the criminal underworld, smuggling goods in and out of Boston quarantine zones for a hefty price. And it all began with one fateful car ride. The city of Austin, Texas had become the site of a major zombie outbreak, and brothers Joel and Tommy were fighting to escape the horde. Eventually, they were forced to ditch the car and run on foot, where a soldier attempts to shoot Joel down to maintain order, fatally wounding Sarah instead.
This unwitting family tragedy kicks off the events of Naughty Dog’s survival horror video game The Last of Us, the live-action television adaptation of which is currently filming in Calgary, Alberta. A recent Instagram post from actor Gabriel Luna, who plays Tommy, shows Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Nico Parker’s Sarah in a cramped sedan, recreating the game’s heartbreaking opening sequence.
Gabriel Luna joins Pedro Pascal and Nico Parker’s father and daughter duo in posing for the camera. It’s in every way the “calm before the storm,” so to speak. Check out the harrowing first glimpse below:
Pedro Pascal is in for the ride of a lifetime playing Joel Miller, the benumbed protagonist of The Last of Us and a grizzled smuggler living on the move in zombie-infested North End. The games paint a crushing picture of a man that has lost all verve for life, having outlived his only child. 20 years have passed since Sarah died. This new Joel has had to contend with a world that has fallen into disrepair after a parasitic fungal infection (dubbed the Cordyceps) turns most of the population into the zombie-like Infected, vicious mutants with a taste for human flesh.
The Cordyceps fungus differs from the usual zombie virus archetype in that it spreads via airborne spores released from mold forming around the infected body. The living are obligated to wear gas masks to protect themselves from infection. With only a fraction of society left, the surviving administration attempts to enforce peace and order by compartmentalizing citizens into intemperately fenced quarantine zones and heavily policing settlements. Every aspect of daily life is militarized down to the last activity. Soldiers regularly scan the inhabitants for signs of infection and aren’t afraid of using lethal force to keep the fungus from circulating. The disenfranchised residents are forced to operate outside of the law to elude law enforcement and save themselves.
This is the world Pedro Pascal is diving into as Joel. Once sufficiently conscionable, Joel has had to shed his humanity to adjust to life in a zombie pandemic. He goes about the business of black-marketing with the phlegmatic disposition of a trained assassin. But his conscience is cursorily challenged when he and his partner Tess are handed an unusual request: to smuggle a 14-year-old girl named Ellie out of the quarantine zone as a favor to the Fireflies. Joel and Ellie soon build a serendipitous surrogate father-daughter bond that changes them both. This unlikely relationship is the emotional and thematic cornerstone of The Last of Us. Pedro Pascal’s Game of Thrones co-star Bella Ramsey was cast as Ellie in February.
HBO’s The Last of Us TV series is the first live-action video game adaptation to feature the writing talents of the people who spearheaded the original. Neil Druckmann, the lead writer of Uncharted and The Last of Us over at Naughty Dog, is working with Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin on the show, with both also executive producing. Gustavo Santaolalla, who also wrote the score for the games, returns as the composer. Kantemir Balagov replaced Johan Renck as director of the show’s pilot episode last year. The Last of Us stars Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, and Nico Parker as Sarah. Voice actor Merle Dandridge reprises the role of Fireflies leader Marlene. Matthew McConaughey and Mahershala Ali were both offered the part of Joel, but turned it down. The Last of Us currently has no release date.
If this Pedro Pascal led series works out, don’t be surprised if HBO starts looking at other video game franchises as possible content goldmines. It’d be easy to imagine them snatching up something like Destiny and turning into the next big thing, if The Last of Us series goes well.