LGBTQ+ fans of HBO’s The Last of Us live action series got a treat this past weekend, as the highly anticipated third episode featuring gay couple Bill (played by Nick Offerman) and Frank (played by Murray Bartlett) aired with highly positive reviews. In it, we get a more expanded look at the couple than the original game provided, showing the full backstory of how the two got together and ended up in their ultimately tragic situation over two decades, rather than just depicting the aftermath with small hints at what happened like in the game.
In an interview with PinkNews, Bartlett discussed the experience of filming this 80 minute episode with Offerman, who he had never met before. According to him, that didn’t matter as their immediate chemistry was more than enough to see them through the episode.
“I love Nick. It turned out he loved me, which was great. And there was chemistry there, which was sort of charged with what we knew we were about to do,” Bartlett told PinkNews. “I think there was magic in the script and we all sort of carried that with us.”
Bartlett, who has recently been part of another popular HBO show The White Lotus, has taken on similar roles before, but apparently this was something newer for Offerman in his The Last of Us role.
“[Offerman] is so perfectly cast because he’s such a tough shell of a guy in a way, and just also so incredibly sensitive and like a small child, as a person and as an actor,” Bartlett said to PinkNews. “I always kind of look for the child in people I guess, and that child was staring right back. There was just this chemistry between us that happened very quickly.”
The cinematographer for this episode, Eben Bolter, agreed, noting that there was a sort of meta moment while filming the scene of Frank and Bill at a piano where Frank is guiding Bill in the story while Bartlett was guiding Offerman in reality.
“I felt there was a fragility to Nick as an actor and he was doing something new,” Bolter told PinkNews. “I seem to remember seeing his hand shaking between takes on that piano seat. And I remember [thinking] ‘he’s so in it’, and that was the character, and that was him.”