It’s clear the dynamic duo of Druckmann and Mazin are keeping the spirit of the games alive, so we — like so many of our commenters — immediately began speculating: who will play Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us TV show? In the spirit of fan casting, we searched through our favorite shows and movies to spotlight the talent we think can really capture the essence of Joel and Ellie as characters. Not all of these picks will look like Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson’s versions of the characters; instead, we looked at the talent we’re most impressed with and who we think would do an incredible job bringing these characters and their fascinating relationship to life.After all, Joel is one complicated dude. After the fungal pandemic kills many of his friends and family, Joel turns into an absolute a**hole. He’s emotionally closed off, not prone to laughter, and he’s become accustomed to killing without remorse. For an actor to portray Joel effectively, he needs to be able to imbue his character with Joel’s apathetic outlook on humanity, but also possess the ability to showcase a bit of Joel’s softer side when his father-daughter dynamic with Ellie begins to deepen.
For Ellie, all she’s ever known is life in a post-pandemic world, so she’s less downtrodden, and even a little naive before she journeys outside of the city walls with Joel. Her emotional journey is almost the opposite of Joel’s in that respect. When we first meet her in the game, she appears to be an average teenager, but as Joel and Ellie encounter new dangers on the road, she becomes just as adept at survival in the wild as he is. The actress who plays Ellie needs to have that youthful exuberance and curiosity for the early stages of the story, but also be able to shift gears and turn into a scrappy survivor who’s not afraid to shoot an arrow through your heart.
Read on or click through the gallery below to see who we picked, and let us know who you would choose for your Joel and Ellie dream cast in the comments!
The Last of Us HBO Series: 8 Actors Who Could Play Joel and Ellie
Hugh Jackman as Joel
Hugh “Jack of all trades” Jackman can do it all when it comes to the world of entertainment. If you need him to belt out a tune in Les Misérables or slice baddies down as an Adamantium-wielding mutant, he’s got you covered. And while Joel doesn’t dance or possess powerful regenerative abilities, their emotional character arcs are often similar. This is especially true in the 2017 film, Logan, where Jackman’s Wolverine opens his heart for a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen). Like Joel and Ellie, Logan and Laura embark on a perilous journey that changes them both in unexpected ways. Jackman plays the “harder than nails” tough guy brilliantly, but he’s also able to show compassion and affection towards Laura when he needs to.
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Jackman’s possible casting:
Sophia Lillis as Ellie
Sophia Ellis has been featured in both IT films and most recently starred in Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This. IT showcases Ellis’ range as an actor, as her character, Beverly Marsh, learns how to confront her fears about becoming a woman and living with an abusive father. It’s a tough role for any actor to play, and Ellis nails it. Her character appears fragile in the beginning, but as her story unfolds and she’s able to discover the hidden strength within her, she becomes a force to be reckoned with as she battles the terrifying Pennywise with her fellow comrades.
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Ellis’ possible casting:
Josh Brolin as Joel
Joel isn’t the most loquacious guy when we first meet him in the game, so you might be wondering why we picked Josh Brolin, since the veteran actor is quite good at speechifying, especially in his most recent roles as Thanos in Avengers: Endgame and Matt Graver in Sicario: Day of the Soldado. However, if you go back a few years to the Cohen Brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, you’ll see Brolin playing a strong-but-silent character named Llewelyn Moss that feels very much like a Joel-type character. Brolin’s knack for giving his characters grit and charm makes him a strong candidate to play Joel.
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Brolin’s possible casting:
Millie Bobby Brown as Ellie
Throughout her young career, Millie Bobby Brown has become synonymous with playing kids with difficult childhoods. Whether it’s being trapped in a top-secret government facility in Hawkins, Indiana or running from giant monsters in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Brown’s characters typically have a lot to overcome. Brown has proven she can show resilience against deadly creatures from the Upside Down, but she’s also good at just playing a curious teenager on-screen, especially in Season 3 of Stranger Things whenever she goes to the mall with Max or plays kissy-face with Will.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Joel
You may not agree with some of his character’s policies, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan knows a thing or two about how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world from his time spent on The Walking Dead as Negan. Morgan portrays Negan as a bit of a loudmouth on TWD, but there’s a quieter, more reserved side to him that you can see in shows like Supernatural as Sam and Dean’s dad, and even Starz’s crime series, Magic City, where he plays another enigmatic father figure who makes questionable choices. Morgan appears to be drawn to these thematically darker roles, but he’s always able to bring out some charm in his characters no matter how despicable they might be. Joel definitely has some redeeming qualities, but before his journey with Ellie begins, you wouldn’t necessarily call him a good guy. (If HBO wanted to go for someone slightly younger for Joel, we’d also vote for Morgan’s Supernatural co-star and on-screen son, Jensen Ackles, who is equally adept at channeling that blend of stoic hero and cocky charmer.)
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Morgan’s possible casting:
Ellen Page as Ellie
Long before The Last of Us was considered for a live-action TV series, Ellen Page was associated with the franchise in its early days after she accused Naughty Dog of using her likeness for Ellie. While the video game company redesigned Ellie to look more like the voice actor (Ashley Johnson) it’s hard to not see Page playing her on-screen, even if she’s older than her video game counterpart. Page still looks younger than she is, so while she probably can’t play fourteen anymore, she could still pass for someone less worldly and more trusting – but still with a core of steel, much like her Umbrella Academy character, Vanya. Paired with the right male lead (maybe one that’s much older), the series could still have that powerful father-daughter dynamic found in the game.
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Page’s possible casting:
Anson Mount as Joel
Anson Mount has been acting in Hollywood for a couple of decades, but he’s having a career resurgence of late. The best two cases for why he would make a compelling Joel are in two of his more recent roles as Cullen Bohannon in Hell on Wheels and Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Discovery. In the former series, Mount played a hardened gunslinger hellbent on getting revenge on the people responsible for his wife’s death. Like Joel, Mount’s character understood how the loss of a loved one can cause you to do some pretty unsavory things. In Star Trek, Pike is more lighthearted and charismatic, but it’s important to see that Mount is capable of playing vastly different characters. Joel isn’t always a sullen son-of-a-gun so it’s nice to know Mount can do more than just brood.
Here’s what some of you had to say regarding Mount’s possible casting:
Maisie Williams as Ellie
Back in 2015, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams was very close to getting the role of Ellie for the film adaptation of The Last of Us. Even though it’s been five years since Williams revealed her interest in the project, we still think she’d make a great Ellie. Like many of the actresses on our list, Williams has played characters that have gone through intense character transformations on-screen. For eight seasons, we watched a sheltered (if rebellious) Lady of Winterfell turn into one of the most deadly warriors in Westeros. Sure, Ellie doesn’t get to see any dragons on her journey with Joel, but her narrative arc is very similar to Arya’s in Game of Thrones.
What do you think of our list? Let us know in the comments.
David Griffin still watches DuckTales in his pajamas with a cereal bowl in hand. He’s also the TV Editor for IGN. Say hi on Twitter.