The Last Of Us Creator Craig Mazin Talked To Matthew McConaughey About Playing Joel

Craig Mazin went on to praise Pedro Pascal for just how committed the actor was to the story, the character of Joel, and his upfront willingness to film in harsh wintery conditions for a year. Pascal was just instantly right for the part and the correct collaborator for Mazin, so it was an easy decision for the showrunner to go with him over his A-list competition. “Look, Matthew McConaughey’s an amazing actor,” Mazin said. “I’m sure it would have been great, but it would have been different and I liked the one that we made, so what can I say? I think it worked out well.”

Mazin is not wrong. McConaughey’s star power might have been a detriment to the overall story if he had been cast in the role. He’s such a strong presence that perhaps people would have seen the actor more than the character in this particular story. He’s proven he could handle the heart-wrenching tragedy of the character and he can be a great hard-ass, but there’s a tenderness to Pascal that is absolutely crucial to making Joel Miller work, and I’m not sure I can see McConaughey nailing that side of the character as well as Pascal did.

The other name that was floated during that interview with Mazin was Mahershala Ali, who Mazin said he never spoke with, but didn’t deny that he was in the running for the part. That would have been another wildly different take on the character and one that I feel is far more interesting than McConaughey, but ultimately the stars aligned and the right team gathered to make one of my favorite first seasons of any television series ever.

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