The amazing reception given by specialized critics and the crazy numbers recorded on HBO seem more than enough to silence those who, during the making of the TV series of The Last of Us, have criticized Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey for not playing Naughty Dog’s video game.
Nonetheless Craig Mazin, showrunner of the series together with Neil Druckmann, also wanted to re-address the topic during a recent interview granted to the Washington Post, explaining that in reality the extraneousness to the video game represented an added valuesince it allowed the two actors to reinterpret the characters without offering a carbon copy of those brought to the screen by Naughty Dog.
It wasn’t easy for Mazin to read all those criticisms: “A lot of people got worried. It was frustrating to know that we had people who doubted.” During processing he and Duckmann took on the legacy of the video game and all related responsibilities, however, leaving the actors ample room for manoeuvre: “I didn’t coach Bella in Ellie’s ways. I didn’t coach her in Ellie’s rhythms. I didn’t coach her to do anything that wasn’t in the scenes, I let her know what the intentions were in the dialogue and the lyrics. […] It’s our job. It’s Neil’s job and it’s my job to put everything Ellie and Joel into the pages. We know Ellie and Joel thoroughly. We know them inside and out, not just in the way that has been beautifully manifested by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, but right down to the ground up, as Neil conceived them. And so he and I created these new versions.”
In short, Mazin believes that fans should have spent less time worrying about the matter, since he and Neil Druckmann, who really created the video game, were there to oversee everything. Judging by the result, they were obviously right.