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Neil Druckmann Felt Like He Was In The Game On The Last Of Us Set

The journey of HBO's "The Last of Us" from an acclaimed video game to the small screen was not an easy one, despite how it may appear. Craig Mazin's adaptation has been blessed by reviews saying the same thing and audiences flocking to their televisions (or computers) every Sunday. But the acclaimed series had some fumbles along the way. Before Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey stole our hearts — and opened our tear ducts — as Joel and Ellie, a feature film version was in the works. But according to creative director Neil Druckmann, a film adaptation of the game wasn't possible. He acknowledged that this big screen failure was for the best. If it hadn't fallen through, we wouldn't have the pop culture phenomenon captivating audiences today.

With Druckmann a co-executive producer on the HBO series, the series is as faithful to the game as could be expected. Druckmann rubber stamps every decision made on the series, whether it deviates from the game or not. But when he first visited the set, even he was blown away by the world he had stepped into.

Attention to detail brought the game to life

There is a difference between toiling to bring your life's work to live action and seeing it in person. Neil Druckmann's partnership with Craig Mazin has birthed moving themes, heartbreaking visuals, and a relationship none of us are likely to forget. After working on HBO powerhouse "Chernobyl," Mazin was an obvious choice for the role. But it wasn't just the executive producers who made "The Last of Us" shine. After flying to Canada, where the series was filmed at the time, Druckmann was in awe when he saw how much the sets matched the game.

"[Mazin] walks me over and it's like I'm standing in the game," Druckmann recalled during the roundtable, Sony: Creator to Creator. "I'm standing in the game and it's authentic, and you can touch it, and you can walk around in it, and then seeing all the extras. The crew just loved the material so much. They poured so much of themselves into it and they studied the game, like every tiny detail."

Mazin noted that employing fans to work in the series was a benefit. As a gamer himself, he is one of these fans that just wanted to get it right. Though surface-level changes are inevitable, the heart of the game remains the same. From the devastating deaths of beloved characters to Joel and Ellie's father-daughter dynamic, the sets are just one way "The Last of Us" celebrates the game that came before.