Last of Us Creator Explains Why Original Voice Actors Were Cast In Show

The Last of Us creator, Craig Mazin, explains why a pair of voice actors from the original video game were cast in the popular HBO adaptation.

Potential spoilers for The Last of Us below!

Following the premiere of the highly-anticipated The Last of Us television series, creator Craig Mazin explained why a pair of original voice actors were cast in the show. Based on the critically acclaimed 2013 PlayStation 3 video game of the same name, the HBO adaptation stars Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, a weathered black market smuggler who the Fireflies enlist to transport a precocious 14-year-old orphan, Ellie (Bella Ramsey), to their headquarters across the zombie-infested United States. As with nearly all video game adaptations, new actors were hired to replace the original voice and performance artists. However, several prominent actors were asked to return in different roles.


Speaking with EW, Mazin explained why a pair of voice actors from the original The Last of Us video game were cast in the popular new show. The creator pointed out that Joel and Ellie’s voice actors, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, respectively, bear no physical resemblance to their on-screen counterparts. With Johnson in her 30s and Baker “so physically different from Joel,” it is clear why they needed to be replaced. However, the two actors will appear in the show as two completely different characters. Mazin admitted that their inclusion was not simply fan service but an important “connection” to what came before. Read what Mazin said below:

“Ashley Johnson is in her 30s and clearly not gonna play a 14-year-old girl, but it was important for us to find space for them [in the show] because they matter. It’s not just about fan service. It’s a dramatic genetic connection between the game and the show. They needed to be there.”

Related: The Last Of Us Episode 1 Ending Explained (In Detail)

Who Do Baker and Johnson Play in The Last of Us?

The Last of Us Ashley Johnson Birth Baby in Video Game Adaptation

For both The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II video games, Baker voiced and performed Joel. However, for HBO’s adaptation, the prominent voice actor will portray James, a senior member of a violent group of survivors Joel and Ellie are set to encounter on their long, arduous journey. Under the compelling leadership of David (Scott Shepherd), the faction is a tight-knit group with a dark secret. Reuben Langdon originally played the role of James in the game.

Johnson returns to the franchise, not as Ellie, but as her mother, Anna. The character was not included in the original game but discussed through notes and conversations. An early The Last of Us trailer depicted Johnson as Anna giving birth to Ellie, however, details surrounding the event have been kept under wraps.

Who Else Returns to The Last of Us From the Game?

The Last Of Us Marlene Merle Dandridge video game and live action comparison

Merle Dandridge voiced and performed Firefly leader Marlene in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II video games. Unlike Baker and Johnson, she was cast as her character in the HBO adaptation, the only actor from the games to reprise their role. Although the original characters were not based on the actor’s appearances, Dandridge bore a similar appearance to Marlene. As the show continues Sundays on HBO, audiences will see how Baker and Johnson contribute to the show in this new phase of the expanding The Last of Us franchise.

Next: HBO’s Last Of Us Episode 1 Explains 6 Game Mysteries

Source: EW

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