Early Roles The Cast Of The Last Of Us Might Want You To Forget About

The history of adapting video games to live-action films or TV shows is littered with failures too numerous to mention. It's saying something, for example, that "Street Fighter" — the 1994 film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme that sits at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes — remains to this day one of the better ones. Thankfully, the tides have been turning lately, and the HBO adaptation of the zombie survival game "The Last of Us" has taken audiences by surprise and become critically acclaimed.

Spearheaded by the creators of "Chernobyl," the series is a dark, foreboding drama. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey lead a top-notch cast whose performances elevate a solid script. The show features a solid mix of TV veterans like Anna Torv and Nick Offerman, as well as under-appreciated names like Lamar Johnson and Melanie Lynskey, whose roles in the series could prove career-defining for them. If they do, they may be hurriedly looking back over their filmographies, hoping nobody notices their worst-ever roles.

Whether they're a superstar or unknown, every actor in the show has a role they likely wish we'd pay no attention to. We're here to make sure they don't get off so easily, so let's see if we can survive a trip down memory lane as we go hunting for those disasters they probably want us to forget about.

Lamar Johnson in Kings

Fans of Canadian TV will definitely recognize actor Lamar Johnson in "The Last of Us." He plays Henry, a young man hiding out with his brother Sam. Up in the Great White North, Johnson has been quite the young star, appearing in everything from cop drama "Rookie Blue" to teen classic "Degrassi," not to mention his leading role in the dance drama "The Next Step." While he may be proud of most of the work he's done in his native land, there's one movie he may want to wipe off his resume: the 2017 drama "Kings."

Set smack dab in the middle of the L.A. Riots, it's all about Millie (Halle Berry), a struggling mother of eight adopted kids, and Obie, her white neighbor. As violence erupts in the mostly nonwhite neighborhood, the pair must rely on each other to get through the ordeal. It sounds like a laudable moral tale, and with Berry and Daniel Craig in the lead roles, it has loads of potential. Despite the talent — including Lamar Johnson as Millie's teen ward — "Kings" is a cringe-inducing failure.

It was called "clueless about its subject matter" by reviewer Odie Henderson. While the movie is bad enough to regret, Johnson is probably hoping we all forget it thanks to a lamentable scene where his foster mother catches him in a sexually compromising position.

Melanie Lynskey in Serial Slayer

Like any good zombie apocalypse story, "The Last of Us" is as much about the fight against other power-mad people as it is about the undead menace. One of them is the terrifying Kathleen, the leader of a group of insidious revolutionaries played by Melanie Lynskey. Oddly enough, Lysnkey may still be best known for her very first on-screen role, Pauline Parker in the 1994 supernatural drama "Heavenly Creatures," directed by Peter Jackson. One role she's much less known for that she probably doesn't want us reminiscing about is her part as Lauren in the 2003 horror movie "Serial Slayer," also known as "Claustrophobia." 

This B-grade slasher flick is about a crossbow-wielding serial killer who brings a wave of death to a California suburb. Plenty of big-name actors start their careers in bad horror flicks, but despite her young age, Lynskey already had a few well-known movies in her career by 2003, including "Heavenly Creatures," "Ever After," and "Coyote Ugly." While there are plenty of cheap slashers that can still be a lot of fun, "Serial Slayer" isn't one of them. In fact, horror outlet Dread Central — who once gave the abysmal remake of "House of Wax" a good review — called the film "a complete and utter waste of time."

Gabriel Luna in Balls Out

Actor Gabriel Luna already has a few iconic roles under his belt, including Robbie Reyes the Ghost Rider from "Agents of SHIELD" and the Rev-9 from "Terminator: Dark Fate." But now he stars in "The Last of Us" as Tommy, the brother of Pedro Pascal's lead character Joel. Outside of his more recognized roles, Luna has appeared on hit shows like "Prison Break," "True Detective," and "NCIS: Los Angeles." Unfortunately, his track record on film isn't quite as prestigious. One he might wish could be swept under the rug is "Balls Out," a 2014 sports comedy. 

Though the film was led by Jake Lacy, its supporting cast is filled out by "Saturday Night Live" veterans like Beck Bennett, Kate McKinnon, and Jay Pharoah, in addition to Luna. The film centers on a nervous jock unprepared to graduate and face the real world. Instead, he decides to reassemble his old intramural flag football team for one last shot at whatever kind of glory an amateur team could achieve (hint: not much).

A deeply unfunny slapstick sports movie that plays like a mediocre "SNL" sketch, there's hardly a handful of laughs to be had. Though it does seem to be poking fun at itself here and there, that's kind of the problem, as it starts to come off as a parody or spoof movie rather than a legitimate attempt at comedy, and ultimately fails at both.

Merle Dandridge in Block Party

As an adaptation of a video game, "The Last of Us" had the opportunity to bring in actors who supplied voices to play the same characters for the HBO series. While a few of them show up in the series in different roles, Merle Dandridge reprises the same role she played in the game. She may look back on some of her older parts with a little less pride, in particular her role as Crystal in "Block Party."

This one isn't really an early role; in fact, it's one of her more recent performances. Still, because it was followed almost immediately by the smash hit "The Last of Us," it's probably not something she's eager to talk about. Like "Kings," the themes at play in "Block Party" are noble ones, intended to shine a light on Juneteenth, a sorely under-appreciated day of remembrance for the Black community. Unfortunately, the film — centered on a group of suburban families celebrating the holiday together — devolves into little more than a paint-by-numbers bore.

In their review, The Wrap compared it to a Lifetime original movie, and not one of the good ones. Noting that the film feels "strangely divorced from what Juneteenth actually signifies," they criticized it for being vapid and self-absorbed, with little character or story, making the whole affair seem cheap and exploitative.

Murray Bartlett in Needle

Veteran character actor Murray Bartlett may not ring bells for many of our readers, though a few recent hits have raised his profile (including Season 1 of "The White Lotus"). In "The Last of Us," he was given the chance to show just how good he is in the instant classic "Long, Long Time," where he — along with "Parks and Recreation" alum Nick Offerman — delivers a stunning story of love and faith that will rip your heart out. The episode will surely be getting Bartlett's agent plenty of calls in the future, and when he responds there's at least one old movie in his career he probably won't be showing off: the 2010 horror movie "Needle."

Also going by the name "Black Magic," the film was an Australian indie movie, so don't be surprised if you haven't heard of it. Despite a strong cast that includes Ben Mendelsohn and "Vikings" star Travis Fimmel alongside Bartlett, the film just doesn't pass muster in basic horror movie principles. The movie introduces us to a group of good-looking college teens, one of whom inherits an elaborate ancient contraption that a mysterious killer is using to murder them one by one.

Unfortunately, the tone is undone by a mish-mash of tones, old tropes, and predictable story beats. Quickly evolving into a tired slasher, there's nothing to keep the audience intrigued beyond the joy of seeing bad actors meet their bloody ends. 

Storm Reid in Santa's Boot Camp

In "The Last of Us," actress Storm Reid portrays Riley, a young orphan in Boston. Though Reid was just 18 when she was cast in the role, she was already something of a Hollywood veteran with a long list of credits to her name. She made her big-screen debut in the Academy Award-winning "12 Years a Slave," popped up in small roles in "The Suicide Squad" and "The Invisible Man," and starred on HBO's acclaimed "Euphoria" as the sister to Ruby (Zendaya). If we had to pick a movie she shrinks from every time it's mentioned, we'd choose the 2016 holiday flick "Santa's Boot Camp."

A cheaply made holiday groaner, "Santa's Bootcamp" sees the world's kids becoming so entitled and snobby that Santa's elves go on strike. With nobody to help him bring Christmas to the world, Jolly Old Saint Nick imports a group of bratty teenagers to the North Pole to train them as replacements. Chaos ensues. 

Reid plays one of the elves, Sparkle. She's probably thankful she barely gets a look in the film's awkward trailer, because it comes across more like a Christmas fan film than a legitimate Hollywood production. Considering her other major movies on her resume, she's not likely to be so eager for her fans to discover this one.

Jeffrey Pierce in The Foreigner

Among the few actors to voice key roles in the video game version of "The Last of Us," Jeffrey Pierce was given a part in the TV adaptation, just not the same one that gamers knew him from. In the game, Pierce voiced Tommy, who is played by Gabriel Luna in the series. In the series, he stars as Perry, a newly created character. Pierce has a more robust history as a voice actor in games than on TV and in film, though he does have a few big projects to his credit, with small roles in "Bosch" and "Justified" among others. Back in 2003, he appeared in a movie that very well could have played a part in his move to games, because it was just that bad.

The film in question is the 2003 action flop "The Foreigner." A direct-to-DVD stinker, it stars an aging Steven Seagal as mercenary Jon Cold and Pierce as his brother Sean. Jon is assigned to deliver a package for a mysterious client. Of course, a number of deadly agents are out to stop him from doing his job. The movie is beyond bad, as its 0% on Rotten Tomatoes attests, with plot holes you could drive an oil tanker through.

Somehow against all odds, "The Foreigner" actually got a sequel. Producers were smart enough to give it an unrelated title, "Black Dawn," and Pierce was smart enough not to return.

Ashley Johnson in Grad Night

When developing "The Last of Us" for HBO, series creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann felt that it was important to include Ashley Johnson in the cast, given that she had voiced the series' teen protagonist in the original game (per EW). Johnson may have played a voice role in the 2013 console classic, but she also had a long on-screen acting career, including as a youngster on the sitcom "Growing Pains." Now that she's back on a hit series, she might want us all to forget the period in her career when she struggled to find good work, winding up in movies like 2006's "Grad Night." 

Admittedly, Johnson only appears in a tiny role as a random student, but that arguably just makes it all the more embarrassing. Starring the late rapper Coolio, the film centers on a group of kids at an urban high school who are looking for one last party before graduation, against the wishes of their strict principal. Sex, drugs, and lots of unfunny antics result in this unnecessary and failed update to an '80s trope that nobody asked for. 

Outside of the presence of Coolio, there's absolutely no reason to watch this one. You'll struggle to find this mostly forgotten flick on a major streaming site, and everyone involved — including Johnson — is probably thankful for that.

Nick Offerman in Paradise

Given his comedic roots on "Parks and Recreation," Nick Offerman may have seemed like an unconventional choice for the role of survivalist Bill on HBO's "The Last of Us." His career has no shortage of strong dramatic roles, though, with parts in dramas like "The Founder" and FX's TV adaptation of "Fargo." Offerman's done just about everything, from voiceover roles in children's animation to hosting a reality series and even popping up in a Wes Craven horror movie. In this mix are plenty of regrettable roles he'd probably want to erase from our memories, like the strange 2013 offering "Paradise." 

Written and directed by Diablo Cody, the scribe responsible for "Juno," and also starring Julianne Hough, Holly Hunter, Octavia Spencer, and Russell Brand, "Paradise" seems on paper like it has potential. Sadly, one look at the movie's story tells you where it went wrong. The plot follows a right-wing woman who has a near-death experience and re-evaluates her conservative beliefs. The premise seems like a badly written high school play and is hardly as funny as one, wasting its cast and making a mockery of both sides' sincerely held beliefs. It's likely you'll be more entertained by its hilarious IMDb user reviews than anything in the movie.

Anna Torv in Frankenstein (2007)

Since her breakout role as Olivia Dunham on J.J. Abrams' sci-fi epic "Fringe" in 2008, actress Anna Torv has had a string of hits. That includes her role as Wendy Carr in David Fincher's "Mindhunter," as Helen Norville in the miniseries "The Newsreader," and now as Tess in "The Last of Us." While she's had success in serialized television, she's struggled to find it in movies on screens both big and small, with a number of duds over the years. Her worst might be the 2007 television movie "Frankenstein."

A radical re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic, the film stars Helen McCrory as Victoria Frankenstein and Benedict Wong as her faithful assistant Ed Gore ("E. Gore," get it?). Torv plays a hospital nurse, while James Purefoy plays a lab administrator (and Frankenstein's husband) overseeing a project using stem cells to create a confusing new form of life. We say confusing because the science is incomprehensible, the poor effects don't help, and it's just a total mess. It misses the mark so spectacularly that you're forced to wonder why they tried so hard in the first place.

Bella Ramsey in Holmes & Watson

While Ashley Johnson played teenager Ellie in the original video game, the TV series looked to a younger actress from Nottingham, England, named Bella Ramsey. Fans of "Game of Thrones" will surely recognize her as Lyanna Mormont, and keen-eared fans of Netflix's "Hilda" will place her as the titular teen of Trolberg. Like anyone who's acted from a young age, Ramsey has a history dotted with some questionable films. As she rises to fame thanks to her leading role as Ellie, she might want to pretend some of them never happened, including the disastrous, legendary bomb "Holmes & Watson."

If you didn't know that Bella Ramsey was part of the woeful retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, you'd be forgiven, because it's downright terrible and few people saw it. In fact, even Sony, who produced the film, knew they had a dud on their hands. Rumor has it that they tried pawning it off to Netflix rather than risk flopping at the box office. Even Netflix knew it was a loser, and so Sony was stuck with it (per Deadline). Critic Peter Sobczynski called it "excruciatingly awful," adding that "it must have been obvious from the first day of shooting that the project was the most hopeless of cases imaginable."

Thankfully, with a star-studded cast, at least Ramsey was in good company.

Pedro Pascal in the failed Wonder Woman pilot

"The Last of Us" star Pedro Pascal is on quite a run as of late, leading not one but two wildly popular series. In addition to the video game adaptation, Pascal also stars as the titular bounty hunter in the "Star Wars" Disney+ spin-off "The Mandalorian," and that's all after a leading role in three seasons of the acclaimed Netflix crime drama "Narcos." Pascal wasn't always a bonafide A-lister. Long before he was one of Hollywood's most in-demand stars he was relegated to B-movies, direct-to-DVD flicks, and lowly failed TV shows, including the infamous "Wonder Woman" pilot that never even made it to television.

In the pilot to a series that never got off the drawing board, Adrianne Palicki played the whip-wielding hero, Elizabeth Hurley played villainess Veronica Cale, and Pascal starred as Ed Indelicato, a police officer who works with Wonder Woman. Produced by David E. Kelley, there were high expectations, but it was apparently so bad it never aired. Over the years it has surfaced online, receiving scathing reviews, with reviewer Alan Sepinwall calling it "a complete embarrassment."

If you didn't know Pascal was one of the stars of the failed pilot, you're not alone. It was even a surprise to Pascal, who told Entertainment Weekly he actually forgot he was already a part of the hero's on-screen adventures after playing the villain Maxwell Lord in the 2021 big-screen sequel "Wonder Woman: 1984." Alas, he likely wishes he hadn't remembered.