When HBO’s The Last Of Us starts this weekend, longtime fans of the property will get to see a story they’re loved for a long time being told in a new way (and with some new twists, along the way, as well). Even audiences brand new to Joel, Ellie, and a post-Infected America might find something familiar onscreen, with the show featuring a cast of actors from all manner of projects they know and love.
To help prevent any sense of, “wait, that’s… someone… from the thing…?” we’ve put together this handy-dandy guide to the cast of the show, just to make sure that you can spend your time and attention on something more important. Like, you know, the actual show itself. Enjoy!
Last of Us' Joel: Pedro Pascal
Pascal is, by this point, well known in fandom circles thanks to his roles in both Game of Thrones — where he played Oberyn Martell in the fourth season — and, of course, Disney+’s The Mandalorian, in which he plays the title role. Beyond that, he’s kept himself busy with roles in everything from Narcos and Wonder Woman 1984 to the metatextual joy that is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. (He’s also shown up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Kingsman: The Golden Circle; really, he’s been around.)
All of that, perhaps, has been preparation for this new role. Joel is one of the two leads of The Last Of Us, a traumatized man tasked with smuggling a young girl across the United States in the wake of a virus that has transformed the majority of humanity into something called the Infected. Joel was in his late 20s when the infection hit, and in the early days of its spread, he lost his daughter — something he still blames himself for, two decades later when the show takes place. Complicated, broken, honorable, and caring to a fault… it’s everything that Pascal is good at, and then some.
The Last of Us' Ellie, Bella Ramsey
Another Game of Thrones alum — they played Lyanna Mormont in the show’s sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons — Ramsey has juggled a number of high profile roles for some time: at the same time as she was appearing in Game of Thrones, she was playing the lead role of Mildred Hubble in the British TV show The Worst Witch as well as voicing the title character in the Netflix animated adaptation of Luke Pearson’s Hilda graphic novels. She’s also appeared in His Dark Materials and Starz’s Becoming Elizabeth.
Ramsey plays Ellie, the second lead of the show. Elle is the girl Joel is transporting across the U.S., and for a very good reason: she’s one of the few people to have survived contact with the Infected, and may be the key to creating a vaccine to cure the virus. An orphan, she develops an attachment to Joel akin to a father/daughter relationship, just to ensure that your heartstrings are going to be tugged at every available moment. (Oh, they really, really are.)
The Last of Us' Tommy: Gabriel Luna
Known to many as Robbie Reyes from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Luna is also a veteran of ABC’s Wicked City and the El Ray Network’s Matador; he’s also appeared in Terminator: Dark Fate and HBO’s True Detective. He plays Tommy, Joel’s brother, with the two estranged due to the stresses of living through the post-infection apocalypse. More idealistic than Joel, he might end up being an important part of Elle’s journey as the series evolves.
The Last of Us' Tess: Anna Torv
There’s an entire generation of fans who’ll immediately recognize Torv for her role in Fox’s Fringe from 2008 through 2013, where she played series lead Olivia Dunham. For others, she’s one of the main characters in Australian political thriller Secret City, which was filmed at roughly the same time as Netflix's Mindhunter, a sadly missed series. (That one was a psychological crime show, though.) In The Last Of Us, she’s playing Joel’s fellow smuggler, Tess.
The Last of Us' Marelne: Merle Dandridge
Broadway veteran — she’s been in everything from Spamalot to Jesus Christ Superstar — Dandridge has an unusual pedigree when it comes to The Last Of Us: she’s the only actor on the show to be playing a character they also played in the original video game. Marlene is the head of the Fireflies, a resistance movement that is the destination for Ellie, if she manages to get there.
Other Familiar Faces
There are a lot of people you might recognize showing up throughout the series, including The White Lotus’ Murray Bartlett and Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman appearing as a pair of survivalists. Perhaps more excitingly for longterm fans of the franchise, voice actor (and the original Joel) Troy Baker will show up as James, the leader of a settler group, with fellow voice actors from the game Ashley Johnson (the original Ellie) and Jeffrey Pierce (Tommy in the game) also making appearances.
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