Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us / Picture Credit: Naughty Dog
Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us / Picture Credit: Naughty Dog

Yesterday (November 20th 2020), fans of critically-acclaimed video game The Last of Us finally got the news they’d been waiting for: television network HBO would be moving forward with bringing the much-loved narrative to the small screen.

With Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin at the helm, a pilot episode was first announced back in June 2020, with Johan Renck serving as director. It must have impressed the big wigs, as they’re now pushing ahead with a full series order.

Mazin will write and executive produce alongside Vice President of Naughty Dog, Neil Druckmann, who worked directly on the two Last of Us video games.

HBO's Executive Vice President of Programming, Francesca Orsi commented: "Craig and Neil are visionaries in a league of their own. 

“With them at the helm alongside the incomparable Carolyn Strauss, this series is sure to resonate with both die-hard fans of The Last of Us games and newcomers to this genre-defining saga."

What those “die-hard fans” will now be wondering however, is exactly who’s being targeted to play the parts of Ellie and Joel - the game’s two leads. In the first game, players took control of Joel throughout the majority of the narrative, whilst that honour flipped to Ellie in Part 2. Both easily captured the hearts of those playing.

Here are a handful or so of stars we think could do well in the roles:

Ellie: Kaitlyn Dever

Kaitlyn Dever as Marie Adler in Unbelievable / Picture Credit: Netflix
Kaitlyn Dever as Marie Adler in Unbelievable / Picture Credit: Netflix

Certainly the one actor that springs to mind in terms of looking exactly as we would imagine a real-life Ellie, Kaitlyn Dever has also proven her acting chops in the emotional rollercoaster series Unbelievable, exclusive to Netflix.

Firmly establishing herself as one of the most exciting rising stars of this generation, being given the opportunity to exposure in a whole other world - that of a video game being brought to life and all of the fans that would come along with it - may be the perfect next move for her career.

Joel: Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman posted a 'throwback with a throwback' on Twitter / Picture Credit: Twitter/SIPA USA/PA Images
Hugh Jackman posted a 'throwback with a throwback' on Twitter / Picture Credit: Twitter/SIPA USA/PA Images

Now that he’s no longer playing Wolverine and he’s entertained us all with The Greatest Showman, could we be seeing Aussie actor Hugh Jackman make the move to the small screen and take on what would likely be one of the most defining roles of his working life to-date? 

He’s certainly got the looks and the charm to bring Joel to TV, but whether he’s willing to commit to a project that is likely to go on for many years when he’s still very much in his Hollywood prime is something that remains to be seen. We imagine it would take some big bucks for him to sign on.

Ellie: Dafne Keen

Dafne Keen at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association press conference for His Dark Materials / Picture Credit: Shooting Star/SIPA USA/PA Images
Dafne Keen at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association press conference for His Dark Materials / Picture Credit: Shooting Star/SIPA USA/PA Images

Currently just 15-years-old, Dafne Keen became a household name with fans of comic book movies when she signed on to play Laura in Logan, alongside one Hugh Jackman! That role proved she’s more than capable of getting her hands dirty, engaging in ferocious battles as she brought her dangerous Marvel character to life.

Moving into television with His Dark Materials, we imagine Keen is in the sights of those who are looking to cast young female roles, and that HBO will be putting some serious consideration into bringing her on board.

Joel: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones / Picture Credit: HBO
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones / Picture Credit: HBO

Now that Game of Thrones has wrapped up and we’ve seen Jaime Lannister’s journey come to an end, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau may be looking for his next major television role. Though he’s not the first person many would immediately think of when casting Joel, HBO would be fools to sleep on his ability in front of a camera.

Coster-Waldau is a master of showcasing emotion, whether that be love and passion, anger and torture, or upset and misery. All of those are essential traits for the complicated character that fans of The Last of Us have fallen head over heels in love with.

Ellie: Cassady McClincy

Cassady McClincy at the premiere for The Walking Dead Season 9 in Los Angeles / Picture Credit: O'Connor/AFF-USA.com/AFF/PA Images
Cassady McClincy at the premiere for The Walking Dead Season 9 in Los Angeles / Picture Credit: O'Connor/AFF-USA.com/AFF/PA Images

Since 2019, Cassady McClincy has played Lydia in The Walking Dead, following on from her role in Netflix original series Ozark. Fans of both shows have pointed to her as a real standout, so from a journalistic perspective, she’s certainly one of the most interesting actors to keep an eye on for the next few years, at the very least!

Playing Ellie in The Last of Us will undoubtedly shoot whoever takes on the role into superstardom; McClincy could be the perfect and deserving candidate.

Joel: Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion at the ABC Winter TCA 2020 Arrivals Carpet / Picture Credit: OConnor/AFF-USA.com/AFF/PA Images
Nathan Fillion at the ABC Winter TCA 2020 Arrivals Carpet / Picture Credit: OConnor/AFF-USA.com/AFF/PA Images

The name that comes up time and time again if you ask fans of The Last of Us to fan-cast the TV series is Nathan Fillion. It’s easy to see why. He’s got an incredible skill of drawing in audiences whenever he appears on screen, still to this day winning over new fans with his role in 2002/2003 series Firefly thanks to his performance.

Many actually think that Fillion would have been a great Nathan Drake in the big screen adaptation of Naughty Dog video game Uncharted, but now that that honour has gone to Tom Holland, we’d say that playing Joel would be the next best thing.

Ellie: Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones / Picture Credit: HBO
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones / Picture Credit: HBO

Another star from Game of Thrones, this time in the form of the incomparable Maisie Williams. Confident and poised, we’ve seen her grow from a young girl into a woman, and we’re sure she can channel that same energy into playing Ellie.

Williams has really grabbed every opportunity she’s been given with both hands, demanding attention when she hits the screen through her gripping performances. The person who takes on the role of Ellie will need to do all of that and more, so Williams may just be the perfect fit.

Joel: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the premiere for The Walking Dead Season 10 in Los Angeles, September 2019 / Picture Credit: Alexander Seyum/Zuma Press/PA Images
Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the premiere for The Walking Dead Season 10 in Los Angeles, September 2019 / Picture Credit: Alexander Seyum/Zuma Press/PA Images

Our final candidate for Joel is a man who’s been in the business for many years, most recently impressing audiences with his performance as the villainous yet complicated character Negan, in The Walking Dead.

Able to grit his teeth and get the hard work done, for many he would be an incredible Joel. The complicated relationship he shares with Ellie, not quite as a father figure but absolutely a guardian to the young girl, is one he would excel at showcasing.

Clicker: Milly Shapiro

Milly Shapiro in Hereditary / Picture Credit: A24
Milly Shapiro in Hereditary / Picture Credit: A24

If you’ve seen Hereditary, you know exactly what we mean! If you haven’t, get it watched. Just keep a pillow close…

The Last of Us is expected to hit HBO in late 2021 or early 2022. Keep an eye on Female First for further updates.

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