While the show certainly seems to plan on being respectful to the source material — they’ve even included at least one wooden plank sequence from the game, seen above — ultimately it understands that there’s no point in just repeating the game exactly, beat for beat, line for line. If that’s all they did, why wouldn’t we just play the game again? The spirit of Joel and Ellie will continue on with these new actors, but neither of them will be attempting a straightforward imitation of the originals. That’s simply not the sort of adaptation anyone here’s trying to make.
And of course, it’s not like the group of actors have never interacted at all. Both Baker and Johnson have been cast in the live-action series, playing different roles than they’re used to in this franchise. “Our paths did cross on set, and it was really cool and surreal,” Pascal explained. “I remember looking into Troy [Baker]’s eyes, and it felt like I’d seen them so much, and Ashley as well, and [we were] just kind of in the light of each other’s, I don’t know, mutual admiration.” Ramsey concurred that both of their experiences in real life with Johnson and Baker were definitely encouraging: “To have their blessing made me feel, anyway, a lot better about it all.”
So far, everything we know about the show indicates that the cast and crew understand the differences between what makes a TV show work and what makes a video game work, and they’re prioritizing the former every time. Pascal and Ramsey will be doing their own separate thing from Baker and Johnson, and that’s probably for the best.
“The Last of Us” premieres on HBO on January 15, 2023.