How ‘The Last of Us’ Depicted Love During the Apocalypse
Carolyn Giardina, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
June 17, 2023
Editors Timothy Good and Emily Mendez did not feel any hesitation when tasked with editing the adaptation of the popular PlayStation game: "I’ve never read anything like that in my life."
When editor Timothy Good shared with then-assistant Emily Mendez the possibility of tackling Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann’s HBO/Max series The Last of Us, based on the PlayStation game of the same name, Mendez — who was promoted to editor during the season — immediately responded, “That is my favorite video game I’ve ever played, and we have to do it!”
“The first thing they gave us was episode three [‘Long, Long Time’],” says Good of the flashback-filled story centering on the lifelong romance of two survivors played by Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett. “I swear to you that I’ve never read anything like that in my life. It was so rich and full of hope and life and love.”
The pair talked with THR about the overall season and developing the arc of Joel and Ellie’s surrogate father-daughter relationship.
How did you shape the emotional story of Bill (Offerman) and Frank (Bartlett) sharing their lives together in a postapocalyptic world over the course of a single episode?
TIMOTHY GOOD It was a dream for me to be able to help them put this together. As a gay person myself who had been through many, many years of understanding what it feels like to be in the closet — and as someone who is married to an actual Bill in real life, and I am a Frank-type person — it was incredible to say, “I understand these characters deeply, and I understand the dynamic between them.” I feel like I can really help illuminate — not just for people who are gay or in the queer community or whatnot, but for everyone — these characters.
A lot of our job here was to get out of the way of these performances and especially the screenplay, because the script is so well done. We have to allow these moments of nuance between two characters who I recognized immediately. These two characters were giving off the codes that gay people will give each other to try and see if they’re safe, if everything is going to be OK, to give them the space to be themselves. All these moments were carefully crafted by the actors, by Craig in the script and by [director] Peter Hoar. [Our job was] to home in on those moments and make sure those lived.
A lot of times people might say, “We should really get through this quicker,” or, “Maybe we can get rid of all this silence.” The silence is where the story lives, because this is where they’re trying to figure out who they are. I find silence to be the opportunity for the audience to really zone in on how a character is feeling. Many of these sequences between them had dueling points of view, which was something we’re not used to doing all that often in editing. Usually, it’s seen from one person’s perspective, but in these scenes, it was very important to Craig and to Peter, and frankly to me, that each one has an equal participation in this, otherwise it wouldn’t have landed, the longevity of their love.