HBO’s The Last of Us arrives on 01/15/23, and several major The Last of Us characters from the game have been confirmed for the show. The live-action Last of Us characters will see 20 years after the United States is overrun by a Cordyceps brain infection that takes over hosts’ bodies and turns them into zombie-like creatures. Joel is the protagonist of The Last of Us cast and is tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie across a country overrun with the infected as well as aggressive groups of humans. Along the way, they are helped by old friends, survivors, and estranged family members as they seek to find a cure.
An adaption of The Last of Us has been in development hell since shortly after the game’s release in 2013 (a problem that also afflicted the Nathan Drake-led Uncharted). Initially intended to be a feature film that would have been produced by Sam Raimi, the idea was eventually scrapped in favor of a series, with Neil Druckmann (the game’s creative director) glad that a series would be able to keep the feel of the original game. While shooting was underway for some time, new The Last of Us characters announcements are still being made as production worked in each of the four seasons of the year to maintain the feel of the original video game narrative. Audiences will get to see the live-action Last of Us characters premiere on HBO Max on January 15th, 2023.
Joel Miller – Pedro Pascal
Having survived the initial outbreak of the deadly zombie infection and the collapse of the government as it was known, Joel has made his living as a smuggler and stayed alive through an us-or-them mindset. As civilization has grouped into quarantine zones strictly policed by the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) and smaller groups of survivors who live beyond the walls, a black market has sprung up for goods and medicine that are being overly rationed by FEDRA. First up on The Last of Us cast is Joel, who will be portrayed by The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal, is cynical about escorting Ellie, having lost hope for a cure, but is persuaded to help against his better judgment. Joel is the main player character for the majority of The Last of Us, and Pedro Pascal’s casting was one of the first characters to be confirmed.
Sarah Miller – Nico Parker
While Sarah Miller will likely only have a brief amount of screen time as one of the characters in The Last of Us show, her presence underpins much of the game’s narrative. Joel’s 12-year-old daughter is killed during the opening sequence as they try to flee the infected, though it is a soldier who fires on them in an attempt to contain the infection as much as possible. While Joel survives the encounter, the death of Sarah fuels his ongoing distrust of organizations and his hesitancy to partner with Ellie. Sarah will be played by Nico Parker who appeared in Dumbo and is the daughter of Thandiwe Newton.
Ellie – Bella Ramsey
Ellie is set to be portrayed by Game of Thrones actress Bella Ramsey. More than just a plot device, Ellie became a playable character in the latter part of the original game and is one of two primary protagonists in The Last of Us: Part II. Fourteen years old in the first installment, Ellie is snarky and self-driven, but was bitten by an infected while out after curfew in a scene that was expanded on in the Left Behind DLC and the American Dreams graphic novel. While there is no cure for the infection, and it is always fatal, Ellie miraculously survived and was discovered to be immune to all forms of the Cordyceps brain infection. This fueled hopes that the live-action Last of Us character biology might hold the key to a cure and is the impetus for her cross-country trek with Joel.
Marlene – Merle Dandridge
Marlene’s confirmation bucked a trend for video game adaptations as it was announced that she would be portrayed by the same actress who voiced her in The Last of Us: Merle Dandridge. Marlene is the leader of the Fireflies, a resistance group that seeks to overthrow the military oppression caused by FEDRA’s hold on quarantine zones. While Joel also dislikes FEDRA, he keeps his distance from Fireflies seeing them as idealistic and doomed to failure, preferring to rely on his own ruthless instincts to survive. Marlene was tasked by Ellie’s mother, Anna, with keeping Ellie safe and is the person who asks Joel to take Ellie across the country after Marlene herself is wounded in a shootout.
Tess – Anna Torv
Joel Miller’s smuggling partner, Tess is as ruthless if not more so than Joel himself. At the start of The Last of Us, Tess has a lead on the location of another smuggler, Robert, who is late on paying them for a shipment of weapons. When she finds out that Robert has sold their guns to the Fireflies and has no way to pay them back, she kills him, and they track down Marlene. Tess persuades Joel to take the job of escorting Ellie across the country on the promise of a payday and convinces him to continue with the mission when the stakes are raised as she hopes that a cure might still be found. Tess will be portrayed by Anna Torv of Mindhunter.
Tommy Miller – Gabriel Luna
Tommy Miller is Joel’s estranged brother in HBO’s The Last of Us, just like in the game series. The two were together the night that Sarah was killed, and they survived as a pair for many years. Eventually, Tommy became disillusioned with Joel’s ruthless dog-eat-dog survival tactics split from his brother to join the Fireflies in the search of something better. By the time of the events of The Last of Us he has abandoned the Fireflies and is living in Jackson, Wyoming with his wife Maria. Gabriel Luna has been confirmed to play Tommy. Maria was confirmed to be appearing in the series as part of 2020’s International Women’s Day, but her actor has not yet been announced.
Robert – Brendan Fletcher
Brendan Fletcher has been cast as Robert for HBO’s video game adaptation. A short-lived character, Robert is a black-market arms dealer in the Boston quarantine zone who has had dealings with Joel and Tess. He also has some dealings with the Fireflies and when he double-crosses Joel and Tess, the duo prove how ruthless they can be.
Bill – Nick Offerman
When found in The Last of Us, Bill has the entirety of Lincoln, Massachusetts to himself and has set a wealth of booby traps to keep out both the infected and other survivors. He has an uneasy business relationship with Tess and Joel to provide them with supplies for their smuggling operations. Bill dislikes having his routine interrupted by Joel and Ellie but reluctantly agrees to help them get a working car in return for past favors. Con O’Neill was originally cast as Bill in HBO’s The Last of Us but had to drop out due to scheduling issues. The role was recast, and now Nick Offerman plays Bill in The Last of Us TV series.
Frank – Murray Bartlett
The confirmation that Frank will be portrayed by Murray Bartlett of The White Lotus was the first indication of a larger divergence from the original narrative. Conversations between Joel and Bill, along with notes found in the game, make it clear that Frank was a part of the game’s LGBTQ+ representation and had previously been Bill’s romantic partner but had struck out on his own sometime before the events of The Last of Us. The character’s only appearance in the game is as a dead body which can only be identified by the fact that he is wearing Frank’s shirt. As an actor has been cast in this role, the show is likely to either have the character alive at the start of the series or provide more detail on the LGBTQ+ relationship through flashbacks.
Riley – Storm Reid
Riley Abel quickly becomes Ellie’s love interest in The Last of Us videogame, and it looks like she’ll be fulfilling the same role in the series. She first appeared in American Dreams and went on to be in Left Behind. Riley is a sixteen-year-old survivor from Boston, whose father was infected and due to the Cordyceps brain infection, killed her mother. Riley was forced to put her father down and went on to be in military school. After leaving school she chose to live out her life with the rest of the survivors, rather than join the military herself, as she doesn’t take kindly to military rule. She often speaks highly of the Fireflies. Riley will be played by Storm Reid, who has appeared in the HBO Max show Euphoria as Gia Bennett, as well as A Wrinkle in Time, where she played Meg.
Henry – Lamar Johnson
Henry is a supporting character in The Last of Us, and is one of the survivors from Hartford, Connecticut. He and his brother Sam left Hartford after the military abandoned the quarantine zone. While hiding from hunters in an abandoned apartment building, the brothers are found by Joel and Ellie. Henry admits to Joel that he and his brother are headed west to join the Fireflies. Unfortunately, the character dies in the game, but its unknown if he will face the same fate in The Last of Us TV show. Henry will be portrayed by Canadian actor Lamar Johnson. Johnson is known for playing Match in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Seven Carter in The Hate U Give, and Jackson in Native Son.
Sam – Keivonn Woodard
Sam is the younger brother of Henry, and accompanied him on his journey out of Hartford and into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While looking for supplies for their journey out west towards the Fireflies, they are ambushed by hunters who have taken over the city. Sam and Henry flee to a run-down apartment building for safety, where they encounter Joel and Ellie. Unlike his brother, Sam is somewhat pessimistic and cold regarding their survival and greatly fears the infected. Sam will be played by Keivonn Woodard in HBO Max’s The Last of Us. The HBO Max show will be the second onscreen appearance for the young actor, after his first role as a deaf student in Seeds of Hope: The Andrew Jackson Foster Story.
New Characters In HBO’s The Last of Us
While HBO’s The Last of Us might stay relatively true to the narrative of the original video game, it is clear that they are expanding the world as several actors have now been cast in roles that do not appear in the original story. Jeffery Piere, who voiced Tommy Miller in the game, has been announced as a new character called Perry. Brad Leland has been cast as someone called Mr. Adler, and Natasha Mumba is playing a brand new character called Kim Tembo.
In addition, indie darling Melanie Lynskey will be playing Kathleen, the leader of a revolutionary movement based out of Kansas. While The Last of Us purists might be concerned by the addition of new characters, it is no cause for alarm. Any good adaptation of a work will make changes to fit the new medium. The extended cast list will likely help to further explore the rich world ofThe Last of Us, and with Neil Druckmann working on the show, it is sure to honor the original.
Classic The Last Of Us Enemies Are In The HBO Show
Including many The Last of Us characters from the video games, the adaptation will also bring on its most iconic villains, and the results so far look incredible. The “zombies” in the Last of Us universe are known as the infected, as they carry a fungal-based infection known as the Cordyceps brain infection. The infection has five stages in total, starting with the runner, then leading to the stalker, clicker, bloater, and shambler.
While the runners and the stalkers still contain remnants of their human visages, clickers have a fungal growth covering their faces after they’ve been infected for over a year. Since they cannot see, they use echolocation to communicate and find their prey. Clickers in particular have been seen throughout The Last of Ustrailers, alongside runners and stalkers. Likely, the HBO show will also include bloaters and shamblers as villains as well, sticking as close to the game as possible.