When Eben Bolter said that everyone was crying, he apparently wasn’t exaggerating. Co-showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann were said to be on set during the shoot, and their reactions to what became the final take were more than a little happy.
“Craig’s crying, Neil’s crying,” said Bolter, “I’m crying, the operators are crying […] everyone [was] just feeling that emotion.”
Can you really blame them, though? Whether or not you are familiar with the first “Last of Us” game, you’ll understand that the tragedy of Bill’s character was the deep-rooted repression of his sexuality. This is a man who likely pushed everyone out of his life because he was ashamed of being gay, but then meets someone that makes him no longer afraid of himself. That’s precisely why the scene of him and Frank at the piano is meant to be so emotional.
Of course, Bolter and the team knew that the episode was a bit of a risk. While Bill and Frank’s relationship in the game was heavily hinted at, it was never fully confirmed or outright stated. Bolter said that canonizing the subtext was important to them, but it wasn’t that aspect of the episode that made them nervous.
“We all knew it was special,” he said. “The only real nerves were to do with making sure we did it justice.”
You can now stream this heart-wrenching episode of “The Last of Us” on HBO Max.