The Last of Us Showrunners Reveal Why They Made Major Change to Joel in Episode 6
HBO has another hit in their hands with their live-action adaptation of The Last of Us video game. The series quickly became the best streaming debut on HBO Max, with it dethroning House of the Dragon, and it’s already been given a second season. The Last of Us has been getting praise for how the series brought the game to real life and has been knocking their episodes out of the park week by week. The latest episode for the series featured a major change to Joel (Pedro Pascal) that alters what happened in the video game involving his anxiety. During the most recent episode of The Last of Us Podcast, series co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin revealed why the change was necessary:
“We wanted to explore the impact of what’s happened to Joel in the wake of Henry and Sam, despite time having passed significantly and it’s shown when he exits the cabin and seizes his chest. What’s happening is Joel is having a panic attack and he doesn’t know why. It’s your body telling you that you’re in terrible danger but you don’t understand why. This episode is about Joel coming to terms with how terrified he is that she’s going to die and it’s going to be his fault. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see as many times Joel has helped her, he’s failed her. And those are the things he dwells on. Like a lot of us, if you have core trauma the way Joel does, the things you do well are discounted but you will magnifiy your failures and tragedies until they threaten to subsume you.
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He is convinced what’s best for Ellie is to let her go but it’s to protect himself. In the game, the camera is quite far back. You swing it around the character, there’s no way to see what’s going on in the faces so we did it with dialogue. We just made Joel distant, like their relationship has gone backwards. Here, we can have intimate close up moments with the camera, we can show this in subtle ways. Ellie’s reaction is when you look at your parents who have protected you forever, you don’t want to accept they have any sort of weakness.”
Mazin, the Emmy-winning creator of HBO’s Chernobyl, produced The Last of Us alongside Druckmann, the creator behind the hit video game series. In an interview earlier this year, the writer said The Last of Us is the “greatest” video game story ever told. “It’s an open-and-shut case: this is the greatest story that has ever been told in video games,” Mazin said in an interview with Empire Magazine. “[Joel and Ellie] didn’t shoot anything out of their eyeballs. They were just people. And that, in and of itself, is remarkably rare in games. The fact that they kept it so grounded, and really made you feel – I had never experienced anything like it, and I’ve been playing video games since 1977.”
Joining Pascal (Joel) and Ramsey (Ellie) include Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Anna Torv as Tess, Nico Parker as Sarah, Murray Bartlett as Frank, Nick Offerman as Bill, Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, Storm Reid as Riley, Merle Dandridge as Marlene, Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, Lamar Johnson as Henry, Keivonn Woodard as Sam, Graham Greene as Marlon, and Elaine Miles as Florence. Original game stars Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, having played the part of Ellie and Joel in both video games, are also set to appear.
The first five episodes of The Last of Us are now streaming on HBO Max. The show’s first season is set to last nine episodes in total with new episodes rolling out on a weekly basis.
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