Why The Last of Us creators changed Joel from Pedro Pascal from games

The last of us look Much like the video game that inspired it, but don’t mistake it for cursing her with faint praise. The HBO series’ apocalyptic look is often lifted directly from the game Known for his cinematic appearance And so full then The most cruel and brutal. Everything is captured in haunting detail, including Joel, now played by Pedro Pascal. But in The last of us TV show, Joel isn’t quite the man he used to be – and that’s by design.

Part of that is just practical: As part of translating the game to TV, co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann had to update the ways Joel was interacting with his environment.

“There are certain things that we espouse about our medium that differ from the medium of the game. In the game, you need a healing mechanic; you get shot a lot, you have to heal. You get shot once in reality,” laughs Mazin.

Dispelling this means showing all the damage that has been done to someone like Joel, both physically and emotionally, after Sarah’s death. His knuckles remain bloody and his body appears to be in pain. Joel from Pascal doesn’t creep in the same way Joel does in the game. “Joel walks in such a stooped position that he would have, like, these huge quads, right?” Mazen says. “55-year-olds can’t bend over for more than three minutes! Tops! Then their backs come out.”

So embrace vulnerability […] I think it helps attract people This is amazing A kind of immersion that is different from being immersed in video games.”

Joel leans in a still from The Last of Us Part 1, captured on PS5

Photo: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Pedro Pascal as Joel in HBO's The Last of Us

Photo: HBO

It also means tweaking – very slightly – Joel’s personality. With a long and arduous journey ahead of him, Joel on TV has a different path to walk than his character. And viewers who have played the game may notice the main differences from his TV counterpart: he no longer handles weapons like he does in the game, but tries to search for a battery for his car so he can find Tommy.

“In the game, because of the gameplay, Joel has to be very able to rationalize all the actions you take,” says Druckmann, “and there are certain things we do in the game to get you to relate to him by being the ‘polygon.'” And that was part of the casting of Pedro Pascal as Joel. […] We weren’t looking for someone who could play a tough guy — because in some ways, that’s the easiest part — and more someone who could show that there’s a tortured soul inside of him.”

The last of usThe first episode defines that struggle for Joel, between the lighter sides of his heart and the immense sadness, pain, and violence that now characterize his life. in a way it is he Softness, an option that will definitely play The end of the first game, which earned its rep for being somewhat divisive. It’s hard to imagine the game’s Joel — who is often defined by his brutal, melting indifference — helping a co-worker when he’s too exhausted to transport a child’s body to the incinerator early in the story.

There Pascal proved to be the key to Mazen and Druckmann’s vision of who Joel needed to be on HBO The last of us Solid concept but more humane than its in-game counterpart.

“Pedro is very charismatic, and there is such a gravitas — he’s funny, he’s a really funny guy — to suppress it all when you see him on screen, there seems to be something missing from this guy, and you want it to show up,” says Druckmann. The beginning and his interaction with Sarah. […] And then when it all goes away, and then over time you can see hints of it reappearing, it becomes really cool to follow this guy, this really damaged guy.”

Pascal remembers the only note he was given was, “Remember to bring it [himself] to it as much as possible.”

“That was the way I understood Joel better, you know, than my heart,” Pascal says. “I found him to be a very hardened person, not someone who reflects on his own feelings, even before he loses his daughter or the world ends before his eyes. And that loss is a kind of calcification and shaping of who he is, and how he survives after that.”

The last of us Premieres on HBO and HBO Max January 15th. Nine new episodes of the season air Sunday.

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