Prior to The Last of Us becoming an HBO series, plans for the incredibly popular video game franchise had the project appearing on the big screen. During that development, a number of high-profile stars auditioned for the role of Ellie.

In a recent profile on the development of the television show by The Hollywood Reporter, it’s noted that, when The Last of Us was still being developed as a film, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams auditioned for the role of Ellie, as did Booksmart‘s Kaitlyn Dever. However, by the time the project eventually was turned into a television series by HBO, almost every actress in consideration had aged out of the role and could no longer play it.

When series showrunner Craig Mazin saw Bella Ramsey’s audition, however, he knew that she should be one of the stars of the show. “Bella felt so real,” Neil Druckmann, who created the video game series. “It was like Ellie realized in live action. It didn’t feel like watching an actor.”

The Last of Us series will tackle the events of the first game with the possibility of additional content based on the sequel. The series is led by Game of Thrones alums Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

Joining Pascal and Ramsey are Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) as Tommy Miller, Nico Parker (Dumbo) as Joel’s daughter Sarah, Anna Torv (Mindhunter) as Tess, and Merle Dandridge (The Flight Attendant) as she reprises her role from the video games as Marlene, the leader of a resistance group known as the Fireflies. It also features Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch) as Perry, Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) as Frank, Con O’Neill (Chernobyl) as Bill, and Storm Reid (Euphoria) as Riley.

The live-action series is executive produced and co-written by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and original game writer Neil Druckmann, who is also serving as one of the directors. It is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television in association with PlayStation Productions. Executive producers are Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog President Evan Wells, and PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan.

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