The Last Of us

Did The Last of US actors play the game?

By Nicholas James


Jan 25, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

The Last of Us on HBO has been getting rave reviews from new fans and old fans alike, but did The Last of Us’ actors play the game?

The Last of Us was a wildly popular and successful video game franchise before it got approved as a TV show. Naughty Dog, the developer, sold over 37 million copies of the various versions of the game as of December 2022. But did either of the stars of the HBO show know about the game? Did Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, or Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel, play The Last of Us games before they took on the show? Here’s what we know.

Did The Last of Us’ actors play the game?

The two most important roles in the Last of Us are Joel Miller and Ellie Williams. Joel Miller is the hardened, 51-year-old survivor of the Cordyceps outbreak played by Troy Baker in the games and Pedro Pascal in the show. Ellie Williams is the tweenage girl who is immune to the Cordyceps fungus that Joel is tasked with escorting west across the ruined United States. Ellie is played by Ashley Johnson in the games, and Bella Ramsey in the TV show. Did either of the TV show actors, Pedro Pascal or Bella Ramsey, play the games before they joined the show? In an interview with Variety’s Adam B. Vary, they’re asked just that. Here are their answers.

Did Pedro Pascal play The Last of Us before the show?

The answer is no, neither of the Last of Us actors had played the video game before they signed on to play Joel and Ellie in the HBO show. Pascal says he didn’t know of the game, but that he was aware of director Craig Mazin’s previous work on HBO’s Chernobyl and wanted an excuse to work with him.

He has also said when he got the initial scripts, he phoned up a family member and said he was looking at taking on a role for The Last of Us. According to Pascal, his family member’s teenage sons hardly let the title leave his lips before imploring him to take on the role. Pascal says that after accepting the role, the world of The Last of Us opened up to him and he realized he had been under its influence in ways he didn’t even know since the game’s initial 2013 release.

Did Bella Ramsey play The Last of Us before the show?

Bella Ramsey says she’s “not much of a gamer”, and that she also hadn’t played the game. She mentions having read a writeup about the game, but that’s about it. It seems that both of the performers accepted their roles in the show based primarily on the strength of the scripts. Fans both new and old have been blown away by the quality and faithfulness of the show’s retelling of The Last of Us’ story.

Does anybody in The Last of US on HBO play their character from the game?

The only person who plays the same character in the Last of US TV show and the video games is Merle Dandridge, who plays Marleen in both the television and video game versions of the game. This is the only person to play the same role in both versions, though video game stars Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson will appear in the show, just not as the same characters.