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HBO Forbade Pedro Pascal from Playing The Last of Us: “‘Don’t play the game’…. I ignored it”


The Last of Us, one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time, has a dedicated fanbase that has been eagerly waiting for any news regarding the upcoming HBO series adaptation. Recently, some exciting news has surfaced regarding the show’s lead actor, Pedro Pascal, and his role as the game’s protagonist, Joel. According to reports, Pascal ignored instructions not to play the game before filming began. But did he listen to it ? And why did the creators forbid him to do so?

HBO's The Last of Us
HBO’s The Last of Us

Bringing The Last of Us to life: The challenges of adapting a game into a live-action series

In the 2013 Sony Playstation 3 video game The Last of Us, you play (mostly) as Joel,a tough-minded smuggler tasked with escorting a teenage girl named Ellie through a post-apocalyptic America overrun by zombies and other dangers.

The Last of Us Game
The Last of Us Game

When the creator of The Last of Us, Neil Druckmann, teamed up with Emmy-winning Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin to adapt the game into an HBO series, many believed they would focus on how to incorporate the intense gameplay into the show.

Mazin discussed the difficulties of translating a game into live-action in a recent interview, stating that most adaptations fail because they are made by people who do not understand or play the games.

However, Mazin stated that they decided against that approach, acknowledging that it would be a mistake to try to replicate the way the game is played in the series. As a regular gamer and a fan of the game, Mazin understood the importance of finding a different way to bring the story to life on screen.

“It’s the mistake other people have made, I think, in adaptation, because they think that’s what connects people to a game,”

Craig Mazin
Craig Mazin

Also Read: As The Last of Us Fans Call Out Ellie’s ‘Horrible Casting’, Bella Ramsey Defends Why She Got the Role: “I am a good actor”

According to Druckmann, there is a significant difference between the experience of actively playing a game and controlling the virtual camera, compared to passively watching the characters of Joel  and Ellie in a scripted TV series. He recognizes that the two mediums offer different ways of engaging with the story and the characters.

This led to the decision to instruct the actors to not play game before filming the series. The creators instructed not only Pedro Pascal but also his co-star Bella Ramsey to not play the game.

Co-creator Craig Mazin revealed that keeping the cast away from the game was just one of the many challenges they faced during the adaptation process of The Last of Us into a live-action series.

Actors’ Reaction to the Game Ban: How did they prepare for their roles in The Last of Us series

In an interview, Bella Ramsey, who plays the role of 14-year-old Ellie, companion of Joel, said

“After my first audition, they asked me, ‘Have you played it?’ And I said ‘nope,’ and they said, ‘Keep it that way,'”

Ramsey revealed that she followed HBO’s advice and did not play the game. However, she did watch gameplay footage online to familiarize herself with the show’s source material before the shoot of The Last of Us.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay in The Last Of Us
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay in The Last Of Us

Also Read:‘Never got why people doubted this show’: HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ Debuts With Rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes Rating

In contrast, Pedro Pascal admitted in an interview with WIRED that he did play the game “The Last of Us” developed by Naughty Dog before the shoot.

“I hadn’t heard of the game,instruction was: Don’t play the game. I ignored them. I tried to play the game, and I was very, very bad at it. – But my nephew was fantastic. It was important to me to play notes that were directly related to what was originally in the game — physically, visually, vocally.”

In conclusion, the adaptation of “The Last of Us” into a live-action series for HBO has been a challenging task for the creators, who decided to not incorporate gameplay into the series and also advised the actors not to play the game before filming began. However, both actors approached this instruction differently with Ramsey following it and Pascal ignoring it. Despite all the challenges the show turned out to be a masterpiece and is getting praises from all over the world.


Written by Minhaz Ahamed

Minhaz is a writer who delves into the complexities of the human experience through his writings, with a focus on cinema, psychology, and philosophy. He finds solace in writing and uses it as a means of exploring and understanding the world.