How Merle Dandridge became only 'The Last of Us' game actor to ... - Entertainment Weekly News

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Creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin accidental the caller scenes with Marlene and Ellie successful the premiere volition bring "a greater payoff" by the extremity of the show.

Nick Romano

By Nick Romano January 16, 2023 astatine 02:20 PM EST

The Last of Us Pedro Pascal

Warning: Mild spoilers from HBO's The Last of Us premiere are discussed successful this article.

Merle Dandridge holds a unsocial presumption wrong the formed of HBO's The Last of Us. The BAFTA Award victor is the lone bequest histrion from the archetypal video games to play the aforesaid relation successful the live-action bid adaptation, that of Marlene, the person of the rebel radical known arsenic the Fireflies.

Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who originated the roles of Joel and Ellie, volition look arsenic antithetic characters, with Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey taking implicit arsenic the sci-fi drama's 2 leads. Jeffrey Pierce, who voiced Joel's member Tommy successful the games, volition spot Gabriel Luna instrumentality implicit the relation helium helped originate, but he'll beryllium connected manus playing a quality recently created for the series.

Most of this, obviously, had to bash with practicality.

"I deliberation Merle Dandridge was astir apt a spot younger than Marlene was successful 2013," bid writer and enforcement shaper Craig Mazin tells EW, noting the twelvemonth the archetypal crippled released. "Or astatine slightest Marlene had gone done the apocalypse. She was a small much weathered and [had] a small much grey successful her hair."

The Last of Us

Merle Dandridge appears arsenic Marleen, her quality from 'The Last of Us' video games, successful the HBO series.

| Credit: HBO

Dandridge, astatine 47, is neither weathered nor grey. "Don't ever basal adjacent to her successful a picture," warns Neil Druckmann, who created the games and present heads the amusement with Mazin. "It won't bash you anything."

"You look similar canine s--- adjacent to her, I warrant you," Mazin agrees. "She's besides eternally youthful. It's 10 years aboriginal [after the archetypal game's debut] and she does person this fantastic gravitas. So it was truly a question of, 'Hey, if we conscionable wig her, I deliberation we're there.' That was an casual one. It's evidently not thing we could contemplate with, say, Troy Baker."

Baker, Mazin notes, is "so physically antithetic from Joel," a quality described arsenic a hardened subsister who's marked by the traumatic decease of his daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker). Twenty years aft a fungal encephalon corruption has dispersed crossed the globe, transforming victims into zombie-like monsters, Joel is surviving successful a quarantine portion successful Boston, wherever he's tasked with smuggling retired a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, who's someway immune to the virus.

"Ashley Johnson is successful her 30s and intelligibly not gonna play a 14-year-old girl, but it was important for america to find abstraction for them [in the show] due to the fact that they matter," Mazin says. "It's not conscionable astir instrumentality service. It's a melodramatic familial transportation betwixt the crippled and the show. They needed to beryllium there."

Baker volition look aboriginal successful The Last of Us arsenic James, a insignificant quality from the games that has been expanded connected for the show. He's described arsenic a elder subordinate of a radical of settlers who indispensable combat to support their assemblage live successful the look of progressively brutal odds. Johnson volition play Anna, a large woman, unsocial and connected the run, who indispensable springiness commencement nether the astir terrifying of circumstances.

Pierce volition past look arsenic Perry, described lone arsenic a rebel successful a quarantine zone.

The Last of Us

Natasha Mumba arsenic Kim and Merle Dandridge arsenic Marlene successful HBO's 'The Last of Us.'

| Credit: HBO

Dandridge is besides getting an expanded role, arsenic viewers person already seen successful the premiere episode, which dropped connected HBO and HBO Max Sunday.

Scenes betwixt her quality and Ramsey's Ellie corroborate that Marlene is someway linked to the girl's root story. Druckmann points to an artifact players tin find towards the extremity of The Last of Us game: an audio signaling that sheds much airy connected Marlene's narration with Ellie.

"It doesn't get into the aforesaid benignant of details arsenic we bash successful the show, but determination is simply a signaling that you could find astatine the extremity of the crippled each the mode successful the infirmary that she spells retired immoderate of her narration with Ellie's origin," helium says. "I don't wanna accidental much to spoil it, but due to the fact that we don't person to adhere to 1 position — successful this portion of the game, you're playing arsenic Joel successful the quarantine zone, truthful everything you're seeing is done his eyes — we said, however tin we present Ellie earlier? That was an accidental to commencement showing much of that narration with Marlene, which past has a greater payoff aboriginal due to the fact that we've established the narration much explicitly here."

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The Last of Us (TV series)

Based connected the award-winning video games, acceptable successful a satellite wherever humanity has been decimated by a fungal plague, HBO is bringing the communicative of survivors Joel and Ellie to life.

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