The Last of Us HBO Series Set Photo Offers First Real Look at Joel

Pedro Pascal brings Joel to life in a new photo from the set of HBO's The Last of Us.

The Last of Us Joel
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Apart from one or two exceptions, video game adaptations have always been losing propositions, whether it’s Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, or Assassin’s Creed. But even successful translations like Netflix’s excellent Castlevania series haven’t gone through the level of scrutiny from the fandom that’s currently aimed at HBO’s The Last of Us. It probably has something to do with the fact that the network is taking on one of the greatest video game stories ever told.

Fortunately, the creative director behind the video games, Neil Druckmann, has written all of the episodes of the show’s upcoming first season, and is even directing one of the episodes. At the very least, bringing on one of the game’s creators means that HBO is really striving for authenticity here, and with Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin as executive producer, the network has a showrunner with a proven track record when it comes to edge-of-your-seat drama.

But let’s face it, the main thing The Last of Us fans are going to want to know on day one is how well the show can capture the dynamic between main characters Joel and Ellie, the central relationship of the entire series. In fact, it’s the breaking of this relationship that sparks the main conflict in The Last of Us Part II, the controversial sequel that set Ellie and Joel on very different paths.

As far as Joel and Ellie are concerned, it’ll be up to Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) to really sell these characters to general TV audiences as well as bring the depth hardcore fans expect from this duo. While we’ve yet to see any footage from the show, a recent set photo at the very least teased the accuracy of the characters’ distinctive outfits from the original game. But the photo only showed the characters from behind, as they stared out towards the wreckage of an airplane at the top of a hill. It was just a taste of how HBO is translating the game’s post-apocalyptic setting to the screen.

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Now we have a new photo, and this one offers a more complete look at Pascal’s Joel, who honestly looks like he jumped right out of the game and into the real world. Check it out below:

On top of the character’s signature tan jacket, Pascal dons the worn down clothes, and wears his hair just a bit messy like Joel did in the game. By the time Joel is charged with transporting Ellie to the other side of the country, it’s clear he’s gone through some shit, and his appearance is a key way the game showed how much his past weighed on him.

Over the past few days, other photos have been released as filming continues at the show’s Edmonton set. Here’s another picture of Pascal’s Joel, this time with an assault rifle slung around his side:

The scenes being filmed involve Joel and Tess (Anna Torv) smuggling Ellie out of the Boston Quarantine Zone, events that take place in the opening act of the game. It’ll be interesting to see how Pascal brings this all to life in front of cameras, but for now, this is a good start!

HBO’s The Last of Us will premiere some time in 2022.