Why The Last of Us Creators Changed Pedro Pascal’s Joel From The Game

Our Last look very much like the video game that inspired it, but don’t confuse that with faintly complimenting it. The HBO series’ weathered apocalypse look is often lifted straight from a game known for his cinematic looks and full even at it most cruel and brutal. Everything is captured with great detail, including Joel, now played by Pedro Pascal. But in Our Last TV show, Joel isn’t quite his man – and that’s by design.

Some of that is just reality: As part of translating the game to TV, co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann had to update how Joel interacts with his environment.

“There are some things that we accept about our vehicles that are different from game media. 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 that means showing all the damage someone like Joel has suffered, both physically and mentally, after Sarah passed away. His knuckles were still bleeding, and his body seemed to be damaged. Pascal’s Joel doesn’t sneak in the same way Joel does in the game. “Joel is walking in such a stooped position that he will have, like, these giant quads, right?” Mazin said. “55-year-olds can’t crouch for more than three minutes! Top! And then their backs come out.

“So embrace the weakness […] I think help pull people in this the kind of immersion, which is different from the kind of immersion in a video game.”

Joel leans over in a still scene from The Last of Us Part 1, taken on PS5

Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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

Image: HBO

That also means tweaking – bit by bit – of Joel’s character. With a long, arduous journey ahead, TV’s Joel has a different path to take than his character. And viewers who’ve played the game may recognize the key differences in his TV counterpart: He’s no longer dealing with weapons like in the game, but trying to hunt down a battery for his car. me so I can go find Tommy.

“In the game, because of the gameplay, Joel has to be extremely able to justify all the actions you’re doing, and there’s a number of things we’re doing in the game to help you connect with him by become him,” Druckmann said. polygon. “And that was part of casting Pedro Pascal as Joel. […] We’re less looking for someone who can play the tough guy — because in some ways, that’s the easier part — than looking for someone who can reveal that tortured soul inside. “

Our Last‘ the first episode establishes that struggle for Joel, between the softer sides of his heart and the immense pain, pain, and violence that shapes his life now. In a way he To be softer, a choice that is sure to work the end of the first game, has won its representation to be quite divisive. It’s hard to imagine the game’s Joel – often defined by his brutal, thawing indifference – helping a colleague when they’re too overwhelmed to move a child’s body to the pyre right away. from the beginning of the story.

There, Pascal proved to be key to Mazin and Druckmann’s vision of who Joel needed to be in HBO’s. Our Last conception of someone who is tough but a bit more human than his game counterpart.

“Pedro is very charismatic, and has a charm — he’s funny, he’s a really funny guy — to prevent all of that when you watch him on screen, it feels like the guy This is missing something and you want it to show up,” says Druckmann. “Obviously we saw a lot of that from the start and his interactions with Sarah. […] And then when all that goes away, and over time you see signs of it coming back, it becomes really fascinating to follow this guy, this really bad guy.

Pascal remembers a note he received that was “remember to bring [himself] with it as much as possible.”

“It’s the best way to understand Joel, you know, by heart,” Pascal said. “I found him to be a very tough guy, and not one to think about his own feelings, even before he lost his daughter or the world ended right in front of his eyes. And that loss has calcified and shaped who he is, and how he survived.”

Our Last premiered on HBO and HBO Max on January 15. New episodes of the nine-episode season will air on Sundays.

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