HBO’s The Last of Us is a little over a week away, and already fans are chomping at the bit to see another iteration of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) adventure. However, it has now been revealed that Bella Ramsey wasn’t the only Game of Thrones actor in talks to play Ellie, but her co-star Maisie Williams was as well.
Ellie is a tough, but vulnerable character young girl that’s tasked to Joel to deliver to the Fireflies, a militia group. As players find out in the video game, Ellie is needed because the Fireflies believe she’s the only way to find a cure and end the infected apocalypse for good.
With such a heavy backstory, the casting for Ellie had to be perfect. So, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter, The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann had “dozens and dozens” of actors in talks for the role, such as Maisie Williams who Druckmann confirmed he had been chatting to very early on in production. It wasn’t just Williams though, Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever was also considered.
Before the HBO series was even conceived, fans of the action-adventure game had already made fan-casts on who they would like to see as a live-action Ellie and Joel. Maisie Williams was one of the most popular choices for Ellie, and the actress herself has previously agreed that it wasn’t a role she would say no to.
However by the time the HBO series came along, most of the candidates that Druckmann and showrunner Craig Mazin had aged out of the consideration. The search was reset.
What Druckmann was looking for when it came to casting Ellie was someone who could be “tough and vulnerable and wise beyond [their] years and also have a potential for violence.” And the creator and showrunner found all of that in Game of Throne’s Bella Ramsey.
“Bella felt so real,” Mazin and Druckmann agreed, reflecting on Ramsey’s audition tape that nabbed her the role. “It was like Ellie realized in live action. It didn’t feel like watching an actor.”
HBO’s The Last of Us will debut on January 15 on HBO Max.