Joel actor from The Last of Us game finally appears in HBO series
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Featured Image Credit: Sony/HBO/Sky
The actor who plays Joel in the original The Last of Us game has finally made his appearance in the hugely popular HBO series, having rocked up for the emotional penultimate episode.
WARNING: CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US EPISODE EIGHT
This week’s instalment was quite the ride, wasn’t it? From infected wounds and burning buildings to meat cleavers and cannibalism, it certainly kept us on our toes.
As Joel (Pedro Pascal) sweats it out with a fever on a dirty mattress, we meet David (Scott Shepherd), the teacher-turned-preacher who is the leader of a nearby community called Silver Lake.
At first, he seems pleasant enough, but we soon learn that he has forced his townspeople into inadvertent cannibalism after running out of food... as Ellie (Bella Ramsey) found out the hard way when she spotted a severed ear on the floor next to the cage where he locked her up.
Alongside David is his right-hand man James, played by Troy Baker - one of a few actors from the original game to make an appearance in the series. That's right, you'll probably recognise his voice from his portrayal of Joel, the lead character played by Pascal in the show.
Speaking to Vulture, Baker explained he was never ‘promised a role’ in the TV adaptation, having been happy to ‘be in the stands rather than on the field’.
“But out of the kindness of their hearts, both Neil [Druckmann] and Craig [Mazin] were like, ‘Hey, we think we have a role for Troy that would be meaty,’ pardon the pun.
“Neil asked, ‘How do you feel about playing James?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, dude, thank you. Who’s James?’”
He continued: “That’s what I love about this story. We have the opportunity to explore characters who may have been looked over in the game - characters who perform their function well but don’t necessarily do anything to move the story forward.”
Other actors from the Naughty Game to feature in the HBO series also include Jeffrey Pierce, who originally played Joel’s brother Tommy but now plays Perry, and Merle Dandridge, who reprised her role as Marlene.
Baker ‘glad-fully accepted’ the role of James, saying he just felt ‘elated to be a part of it’.
"I’m excited there’s now millions of people who are joining the conversation that we’ve all been having for the last ten years,” he said.
The actor also praised Pascal for his interpretation of the character, saying he brings a ‘vulnerability’ that he doesn’t feel they could have done in the game because of the ‘nature of it’.
“In the show, we have the opportunity to exploit some of those vulnerabilities,” he explained.
“Pedro does that in amazing ways. We also don’t have to be so locked into the camera being behind our two characters.
“And we can spend more time with Bill and Frank, or Tommy and Maria, or Kathleen and Perry. These characters in the game served a certain function, and now they serve a different function in our show: to be a mirror reflection of who Joel and Ellie are.”
After the episode premiered, Baker's name even started trending on Twitter, with the star thanking co-creators Druckmann and Mazin for the gig.
"Tonight was unreal," the star - who also fronts the official The Last of Us podcast - wrote.
"Hearing the response to this episode does this old boy’s heart good. I’m beyond grateful.
"Amazing performances by all. Thank you to @Neil_Druckmann for your trust and friendship. And to @clmazin for telling me when to “Run.” One more to go. #TheLastOfUs."
One fan replied: "Such a full circle moment. I loved that you got to interact with Ellie. Too bad your character couldn't interact with Joel though. Nonetheless you did a fantastic job and I really enjoyed your take on the character. You added an extra depth to the them that wasn't there in the game."
Another added: "You were fantastic! Your voice and seeing you in the show was surreal. Take a bow sir, you’re amazing."