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Why Anna Torv Thinks Fans Will Look At The Last Of Us Differently After COVID-19 - Exclusive

While the new "The Last of Us" series is derived from a video game based on a fictional premise, star Anna Torv believes that audiences may view the show's premise from a perspective of science fact rather than science fiction in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the blockbuster 2013 video game created by Neil Druckmann, the pilot episode of "The Last of Us" has an ominous introduction, as a scientist (John Hannah) in the 1960s warns how a fungal disease could someday destroy the world. There's another chilling scene to kick off Episode 2 of the series, where in 2003, Indonesia's foremost mycologist — a scientist who studies fungi — is briefed by a top-ranking military official about a disturbing incident between a group of factory workers. 

After studying a cadaver of a victim in a secure lab, the scientist, Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim), is horrified by what she sees: proof of the previously unthinkable idea that the cordyceps fungus has survived in a human. Knowing the fungus causes an infection of the brain and turns its victims into raging zombies, Ratna has to deliver the devasting news that the disease will quickly spread and there is no vaccine to cure it.

Not long after, the cordyceps fungus-borne disease begins to take hold in Texas and leads to a deep personal loss for Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal). An apocalypse soon follows, and 20 years later, Joel and his smuggling partner, Tess Servopoulos (Torv), take up the dangerous task of sneaking Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) out of the government's heavily guarded quarantine zone. Because of Ellie's immunity to the cordyceps disease, the young teen may be the key to a vaccine — and ultimately, a cure.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Torv discussed the timeliness of the release of "The Last of Us," how filming was affected since the series was shot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the way she views the material of the series now.

Torv says filming convinced her that humans are 'programmed' to 'survive'

Filming for "The Last of Us" happened in a far-too-realistic atmosphere for Anna Torv, Pedro Pascal, and Bella Ramsey — among other cast and crew members on the series — since they all had to take special precautions due to the threats COVID-19 posed to everyone on the set. "We were in Canada, in Calgary, and we were there when your vaccine passports came out," Torv, who hails from Australia, told Looper. "But in order to go to a café or a shop, we were getting tested three times a week in order to go to work. Everyone was in masks, and I needed permission to leave the country."

While the real-life circumstances surrounding COVID and the disease caused by the cordyceps fungus in "The Last of Us" are far different, Torv said there is one thing that the characters in the series and real-life people have in common: the inherent ability to be resilient.

"[Working on the series makes] you go, 'Gosh, we, as humans, really do learn to adapt very, very quickly,'" Torv observed. "That was interesting because you watch this apocalyptic stuff and you think, 'God, what is the point? What is the point of life? What are they doing if they don't believe in a cure?' Then you go, 'Well, that's because we are programmed to do that, to survive.' We adapt, and Ellie doesn't know any different [because she is immune]."

Also starring Merle Dandridge, Gabriel Luna, Nico Parker, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett, "The Last of Us" is on HBO and HBO Max, with new episodes debuting every Sunday through March 12.