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Where You've Seen The Cast Of HBO's The Last Of Us Before

Video game movie adaptations have a complicated history, with the vast majority of them being disappointing for both newcomers and fans alike. Films like "Prince of Persia," "Warcraft," and "Assassin's Creed" all struggled to gain the critical and commercial clout needed to usher in a golden age of video game movies on the big screen. Aside from the "Sonic the Hedgehog" movies (which have been surprising hits), there has yet to be a truly successful video game film. So, it seems Hollywood has turned to episodic content in its newest attempt to bring huge gaming franchises to life.

"The Last of Us" is one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time with numerous accolades including "Game of the Year" and ranking as one of the highest-selling games of all time. It should come as no surprise that the game (which was followed up with an equally as beloved sequel in 2020) would get the attention of big production companies.

While HBO was beaten to the punch by Paramount+'s successful first season of "Halo," it has nonetheless put its all into making "The Last of Us" a success. This series has been brought to life by the game's original creator, Neil Druckmann, as well as Craig Mazin, the creator of another hit HBO show, "Chernobyl." More importantly, the show has secured some of the hottest names in Hollywood. Read on to find out where you've seen the cast of "The Last of Us" before.

Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal stars as Joel, a bitter and desensitized survivor of both the terrifying Cordyceps pandemic and deep personal tragedy. In the original game, Joel (Troy Baker) is the main character, whom players control as they traverse the post-apocalyptic American landscape. The show employs a different approach by taking the narrative focus off of Joel as a heroic zombie-slayer and shining more light on his interactions with Ellie.

HBO shelled out the big bucks to land Pascal who has become a household name in recent years. This is all thanks to his stellar work in shows like "Game of Thrones" and "The Mandalorian" in which he plays Oberyn Martell and Din Djarin, respectively. Viewers might also be familiar with his work on the big screen; he's enjoyed roles in films like "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Wonder Woman 1984," and "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

Pascal has become one of the highest-paid television stars for his work on "The Last of Us" with HBO paying him roughly $600,000 per episode for the first season (per Variety). Interestingly, while a fan of Joel's character, Pascal has never played the game himself and wants to make the character all his own. In an April 2022 interview with GQ, he said: "So I just wanted to create a healthy distance, and for that to be more in the hands of Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann."

Bella Ramsey

Next to Joel, the other essential character in "The Last of Us" is Ellie (who becomes the main lead in "The Last of Us: Part II"). Ellie is a 14-year-old girl during the events of the first game and is seemingly immune to the raging fungal zombie plague that has devastated the world. She is a brave, cunning, and stubborn character who is forced to accompany Joel across the country in order to be delivered to a group of rebels on the west coast.

Originally portrayed through voice and motion capture by Ashley Johnson, HBO chose to cast a younger actress for the role with Bella Ramsey getting the nod. Ramsey is still early on in her career but nonetheless has made waves with one of her first big roles in another HBO production "Game of Thrones" as Lyanna Mormont. Despite her age, Ramsey's ability to hold her own in scenes against much older actors in the show is impressive and a credit to her acting chops.

Other notable projects that Ramsey has featured in include "Hilda," "His Dark Materials," and the 2020 film "Resistance." In an October 2021 interview with BBC, Ramsay discussed how coming back to HBO was a gratifying experience: "'Game of Thrones' was the first thing I ever did and that was HBO. The same exec Carolyn Strauss on that is also producing this, so it feels like it's come full circle — it's really nice."

Gabriel Luna

Yet another prolific actor to appear in "The Last of Us" is Gabriel Luna in the role of Tommy, Joel's younger brother. Tommy plays a very important supporting role in the games as a character who is introduced in the intense opening sequence and then re-introduced later on as a leader of an isolated settlement in Wyoming. The part was originally played through voice and motion capture by Jeffrey Pierce, who will appear in the HBO show as Perry.

Luna is surely an actor you've seen before as he boasts a large and impressive filmography. His biggest role to date is likely as Robbie Reyes (also known as Ghost Rider) in the ABC series "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." As if being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't enough, he also dipped his toes into another massive film franchise, appearing as the main villain of 2019's "Terminator: Dark Fate." In that role, he followed in the footsteps of actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick by playing a soulless killing machine from the future called Rev-9. Additionally, Luna has also had notable roles in popular shows such as "Prison Break," "True Detective," and "Love, Death & Robots."

Anna Torv

Although this may be a smaller role in the games, the character of Tess is a critical part of the early story which sets Joel and Ellie off on their survivalist adventure. That's why HBO brought in a dynamic actress like Australia's Anna Torv to take on the role and make it her own. In "The Last of Us," Tess is a close friend and smuggling associate of Joel as they live together in the authoritarian military dictatorship of Boston. We won't spoil what happens between Tess and Joel, but what's important is that she ensures that he will take Ellie on this journey no matter what.

Torv has featured in two popular and successful television series prior to her involvement with "The Last of Us," both of which have big fanbases in their own right. Torv is most known for her role as Olivia Dunham on Fox's "Fringe" as well as Wendy Carr in Netflix's "Mindhunter." Interestingly, both characters are involved with the FBI as they investigate various crimes. Luckily, she hasn't been completely typecast into crime investigation shows thanks to other appearances in projects such as the drama film "The Daughter," and supernatural horror, "Stephanie."

Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman is one of the more well-known and beloved comedic actors, but in recent years he's branched out from his roots in hilarious sitcoms to more serious projects. That's why he was a perfect choice for the role of Bill in "The Last of Us" who, as fans of the game will know, is a kind of unhinged survivalist who is a smuggling co-worker of both Joel and Tess. Bill is known for being a distrusting and aggressive isolationist who has an amusingly contentious relationship with his partner named Frank.

While his role in "The Last of Us" will be relatively minor, Offerman has proven himself to be a very capable actor across multiple genres. He is best known for his role as Libertarian government worker Ron Swanson in NBC's "Parks and Recreation" where he starred alongside the likes of Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, and Chris Pratt. Offerman has also branched out with more complex roles in works such as "The Founder," "Fargo," and "Pam & Tommy" as well as considerable voice acting work in projects like "The Lego Movie" and "Gravity Falls." 

Merle Dandridge

One of the few actors to reprise their role from the original "The Last of Us" video game is Merle Dandridge as Marlene, leader of the Fireflies resistance movement. Marlene is an important character in the story who first tasks Joel with escorting Ellie out of the military-occupied quarantine zone of Boston safely. Her role grows and changes over time as Joel becomes emotionally attached to Ellie, and as Marlene's true intentions become more clear.

In the games, Dandrige delivered a voice and motion capture performance for Marlene. She has previously completed video game voice work as Alyx in the popular "Half Life 2" Valve games and has had significant in-person acting experience thanks to appearances in shows such as "NCIS," "24," "Criminal Minds," "The Newsroom," and "The Mentalist" to name a few. 

As well as recurring roles in other successful shows like "Sons of Anarchy" and "Station 19," Dandrige starred as a main character in the Oprah Winfrey Network series, "Greenleaf," and has also appeared in a number of stage productions including "Rent," "Spamalot," and "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Murray Bartlett

A surprising appearance for fans of HBO's "The White Lotus" Season 1 is Australian actor Murray Bartlett as Frank in "The Last of Us," a character who basically didn't even appear as anything but a corpse in the original game. Frank has been upgraded to a real speaking and breathing character for the series to give Nick Offerman's character, Bill, someone to play off of. The main way gamers interact with Frank in the video game is by reading his letters left behind for Bill before his tragic death, which reveal much about their complex relationship.

Frank is in good hands being portrayed by Bartlett, a fantastic actor who has gained recent adoration for his role in "The White Lotus" as Armond, a hotel manager who begins to relapse back into drug addiction thanks to the unbearable guests. Bartlett gained critical acclaim for his performance and won the Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited or anthology series or movie. Bartlett may also be familiar to viewers thanks to other parts in successful shows such as "Flight of the Conchords," "Iron Fist," "Physical," and a starring role in 2022's "Welcome to Chippendales" as Nick De Noia.

Melanie Lynskey

Unlike almost all the other major characters in "The Last of Us," there's one that has been created wholesale for the show that isn't in the games at all. This character is Kathleen, who is apparently the leader of an armed revolutionary movement out in Kansas City that Joel and Ellie encounter along their journey. In order to bring gravitas to this new character, HBO recruited the talents of actress Melanie Lynskey for the job.

Lynskey has become known as an actress with the dedication and skill to portray more complex characters than the average performer. She has been working as an actress since she was only 16 years old in her first major motion picture, "Heavenly Creatures." Since then, Lynskey has been featured in countless movies with some highlights including "Coyote Ugly," "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and "Don't Look Up."

TV lovers may be more familiar with her appearances in popular shows like "Two and a Half Men," and "Togetherness." Lynskey is also killing it (literally) in Showtime's hit series "Yellowjackets" as the older version of the survivor of a high school soccer team whose plane crashed in the remote wilderness of Canada.

Lamar Johnson

Coming in to play one of the more emotional roles in "The Last of Us" is Lamar Johnson as Henry, a character who is in hiding with his younger brother Sam (Keivonn Woodard) when they're found by Joel and Ellie. The dynamic between Henry and Sam as they are stuck together with Joel and Ellie is a huge chunk of the first game and, without spoiling anything, leads to some particularly upsetting moments for players.

Johnson appears to be the perfect actor for the role of Henry, as he has proven himself to be a capable performer in his relatively young acting career. Up until this point many of Johnson's major roles have involved his skills as a dancer, with his first big break in entertainment coming through his role as West in the Canadian dance series "The Next Step." He may also be familiar to those who have seen his work in films like "The Hate U Give," "Native Son," and the 20th Century Fox "X-Men" movie "Dark Phoenix" in which he plays Match.

Ashley Johnson

While only playing a small role in this series as Anna, Ashley Johnson has a much deeper connection to "The Last of Us" than almost anyone else in the cast because she is the original actor to portray Ellie in the games. Through her motion capture and voice acting performance, Johnson brought Ellie to life across both "The Last of Us" and "The Last of Us: Part II" with incredible depth. She received the "BAFTA Games Award for Performer" twice for her work as Ellie in the series, so it's a big win that she is included in the live-action adaptation.

Aside from her work in video games, Johnson also has significant experience in both film and television up to this point. She began her career as Chrissy Seaver in the ABC series "Growing Pains" when she was only 6 years old. Since then, Johnson has been featured in shows such as "The Killing," and "Blindspot," and films like 2011's "The Help." Some fans may also recognize Johnson from her appearances in the hugely popular web series "Critical Role," where she plays a supervised game of "Dungeons and Dragons" with other actors.

Storm Reid

Actress Storm Reid steps into the role of Riley Abel, a character who actually didn't appear at all in the main story of "The Last of Us," but instead was introduced in a prequel piece of downloadable content called "The Last of Us: Left Behind." Her story is deeply intertwined with Ellie, as they were childhood friends living in Boston where they shared an intimate romantic connection. It remains to be seen if her role in the series adaptation will be enhanced from the main game, or if Riley will appear only through flashbacks to show her time with Ellie. 

Reid has generated lots of buzz for her role as Gia Bennett in HBO's hit series "Euphoria," and has built an impressive filmography of roles over the years with standout performances in movies like "12 Years a Slave," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Don't Let Go," and "The Invisible Man." Additionally, Reid has been nominated for multiple awards in her career such as a Teen Choice Award, NAACP Image Award, and BET YoungStars Award. During an appearance on the "Jemele Hill Is Unbothered" podcast, Reid revealed she had never even heard of "The Last of Us" game series prior to landing the role and had to ask friends if it was worth doing. Luckily, she said yes.