The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal will play Joel in HBO’s TV series adaptation of The Last of Us. Word of Pascal’s casting comes just hours after it was announced that Game of Thrones breakout star Bella Ramsey will co-star in the series as Ellie, the teenage girl Joel cares for in the original video game. Like Ramsey, Pascal was also previously featured on Game of Thrones, though he had already departed the series before Ramsey debuted.
Pascal getting the role of Joel in The Last of Us also follows rumors that Moonlight star Mahershala Ali had been offered the part. Reportedly, Ali had “circled the role” before Pascal’s casting, but a deal never came to fruition. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Hugh Jackman were other names that had come up with fans doing their own fantasy casting online, but given Pascal’s popularity, fans will likely embrace The Mandalorian star in the role.
Before taking on his popular role in The Mandalorian, Pascal broke out as Oberyn Martell in the fourth season of Game of Thrones. He also recently appeared in the comic book movie Wonder Woman 1984 as the villain, Max Lord, and was just cast in Judd Apatow’s upcoming pandemic-themed comedy movie. Word is the actor just became available for a new series, and with multiple big offers from various networks and streamers coming his way, Pascal was most intrigued by The Last of Us.
In The Last of Us, Joel is a hardened survivor in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombie-like creatures. Set 20 years after the world came to an end, Joel is hired to smuggle a teenage girl named Ellie (Ramsey) out of a quarantine zone while staying clear of raiders and other dangers. What starts as a small job “soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.”
The original video game version of The Last of Us is one of the most popular console games of recent years. It was a quick hit when it was first released in 2013, selling millions of copies and garnering multiple Game of the Year awards. Last year, the sequel The Last of Us Part II would also be released with similarly incredible success. Selling over four million units in its release weekend, the followup title holds the record for most Game of the Year awards.
Based on the popularity of the game, there have been plans to create a live-action version of The Last of Us for years. In 2014, Sony had announced a movie adaptation to be produced by Sam Raimi. Oddly enough, this version could have starred yet another Game of Thrones alum, as Maisie Williams had expressed interest in playing Ellie for the project. Ultimately, the movie plans evolved into the TV series that’s now in the works for HBO.
Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin will develop The Last of Us with the original game’s writer and creative director Neil Druckmann. The two will executive produce as well with Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog president Evan Wells, and Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan of PlayStation Productions. Kantemir Balagov will direct the pilot episode. It’s not yet clear when the series will make it to HBO. This news was first reported by Deadline.