HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us has found its Joel, and it only had to look to a galaxy far, far away: Pedro Pascal, the star of The Mandalorian, has signed on to play the lead in the zombie drama, Deadline reports. Now that he’s done shepherding Baby Yoda through the universe, Pascal will pull surrogate dad duties for fellow Game of Thrones vet Bella Ramsey, who’s been cast as Ellie in the show. Really, if you’re in the market for a tough but soulful father figure, Pascal’s proven himself the man for the job with his Star Wars role.
Mandalorian fans don’t have much to worry about. According to Deadline, Pascal “could continue” on the Disney+ series, as it’s primarily a voiceover role for him. Still, The Last of Us will be his priority—the show has him in first position, meaning HBO gets dibs on his schedule if any conflicts might arise.
Sony’s The Last of Us, of course, is a hugely popular and successful videogame about life and trauma after an infection that decimates the world and turns many survivors into zombie-like creatures. In the first game, released in 2013, fortysomething Joel protects 14-year-old Ellie, who might possess the secret to ending the pandemic, on a journey from Boston to Utah. Along the way they have to contend with enemies both human and infected, and discover, shockingly, that maybe we’ve been the real monsters all along. Okay, yes, the story makes some familiar decisions along the way, but that first game also focused on how traumatic events can leave permanent scars that impact us daily, in a way that’s more perceptive and empathetic than similar big budget videogames.
HBO’s adaptation is coming to the world courtesy of Craig Mazin, the creator of HBO’s smash miniseries Chernobyl, and Neil Druckmann, the writer, co-creator, and co-director of the game and its sequel (with Halley Gross sharing writing credits on the 2020 sequel). The pilot is being directed by Kantemir Balagov, the Russian director of the films Closeness and Beanpole; he won the Best Director Award at Cannes in 2019 for the latter.