Booksmart star Kaitlyn Dever almost played Ellie in HBO’s upcoming The Last of Us. Out in January, the series will follow a no-nonsense smuggler who’s tasked with escorting a teenage girl named Ellie across a pandemic-ravaged America. The series, based on Naughty Dog’s widely acclaimed video game of the same name, sees the smuggler, Joel, played by Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal, while Ellie will be played by Bella Ramsey, who was also in HBO’s Game of Thrones, playing noblewoman Lyanna Mormont, though she nearly didn’t reunite with her Game of Thrones co-star.
It turns out that The Last of Us co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin went through a laborious casting process when finding the right Ellie. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Druckmann admitted that they saw dozens and dozens of actresses for the part, with Booksmart star Kaitlyn Dever being one of those people, and she even did a table read. In the same interview, Druckmann reminded fans that Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams was also considered for the role, when the film adaptation of the game was still alive. According to Druckmann, the show needed somebody who could be “tough and vulnerable and wise beyond their years, and also have a potential for violence.”
Why Bella Ramsey Is A Good Choice For Ellie
Williams would have been a good choice, as the actress has proven with her time as Arya Stark that she can play intense, physical roles. Dever definitely looks the part and was actually fan-casted back in 2020, when she admitted that she’d love to play the part, if given the opportunity. There was however, a big age difference between Ellie and Dever, as the protagonist is just 14 years old in the first game, whereas the Booksmart actor was 25 at the time filming began on the show. The same could be said about Williams, as by the time the HBO adaptation was up and running, the Game of Thrones alum was a full decade older than the character.
When Mazin watched Ramsey’s audition tape, he found himself immediately on board, with Druckmann, who created the original Last of Us games, agreeing and believing that the young actor “was like Ellie realize in live-action.” Ramsey went from audition to securing the role in less than a month, and based on her Game of Thrones role alone, many have felt that Ramsey is a good choice for Ellie. Ramsey’s Lyanna Mormont checks all the boxes in what The Last of Us co-creators Druckmann and Mazin were looking for in Ellie, and there’s little doubt that Ramsey will bring that to The Last of Us and reveal to viewers a new layer of vulnerability.
Since The Last of Us’ narrative isn’t exceptionally long, as the whole story could be told in two to three seasons for the two games in the franchise, it doesn’t look like Ramsey, now 19, will age out of the role. While Dever bears a striking resemblance to Ellie, admittedly more than Ramsey in some eyes, the actor is not only in her late 20s, but still to be tested physically, and it’s unclear whether or not she has the range for a dark role like Ellie. Ramsey’s a perfect fit for the part and, come January 15, she’ll have the chance to prove it.
Next: The Last Of Us’ Cordyceps Zombie Virus & Stages ExplainedSource: THR