This summer, HBO will begin production on a TV series based on the iconic survival game The Last of Us, with Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey set to star as beloved characters Joel and Ellie. Fans of the video games are ecstatic for the new adaptation to arrive, but this actually isn't the first time a live-action take on the Naughty Dog franchise has been in the works. Screen Gems and Sony tried to make a feature film based on the game back in 2014, but things ultimately fell apart. As it turns out, the film's downfall may have been due to its action-heavy premise.
The Last of Us game director Neil Druckmann recently appeared on the Script Apart podcast and talked about the 2014 adaptation. He explained that they were asked to add a ton of action to the story, taking the style away from the source material.
“When I worked on the movie version, a lot of the thinking and notes were like ‘how do we make it bigger? How do we make the set pieces bigger,'" Druckmann revealed. "It didn't work for The Last of Us and I think that's ultimately why the movie wasn't made."
When it came time to make the HBO series, the creative team took a much different approach. Rather than an action-heavy blockbuster, the series will feel more like an indie drama, one that focuses on the characters and their relationships over the set pieces. According to Druckmann, that's a major reason why the show is moving forward.
“Our approach for The Last of Us was ‘Let’s make it as an indie film’,” Druckmann said of the series. “Let’s approach it as an indie film team, the way it’s shot, the way how small and intimate it feels. And with the show we get to lean into that even more because we don’t have to have as many action sequences as we do in the game.”
“In the game, there’s certain mechanics for pacing purposes,” he continued. “You have to engage those mechanics every once in a while, you need enough combat to train those mechanics. And you can throw all that out [for the TV show], because now we’re in a different medium. Let’s play to the strengths of this medium.”
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