top of page

The Secret Ingredients That Helped ‘The Last of Us’ Break Out

Michael Malone, TVTECH

April 26, 2023

Team effort helped HBO drama recreate the source video game’s rich look

Craig Mazin, co-creator/executive producer/writer/director on “The Last of Us,” played up the teamwork aspect on the hit HBO drama on the Main Stage last week at the 2023 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

“The Last of Us” is set in a post-apocalyptic America, 20 years after a fungal infection has turned much of the population into zombies. Neil Druckmann created the show alongside Mazin. It premiered on HBO in January.

Editor Timothy Good said he’d never played the video game before. Editor Emily Mendez, on the other hand, was a big fan. The two brought together their different perspectives to give the show a distinctive feel.

The editors spoke of the key moments in season one. Pedro Pascal’s Joel lost his teenage daughter in the pilot, and is reluctant to open himself up to another teen girl as he gets to know Bella Ramsey’s Ellie. Ellie’s book of puns makes him smile for the first time in eons. “You can see the transformation between the two characters and how they sort of come together,” Good said.

Mendez mentioned Ellie stitching up Joel’s stomach later in the season, and the effort the producers went through to give the scene extra impact. “You’re with her in that moment,” she said.

Michael J. Benavente, sound supervisor, spoke of “a quiet world” in the show with no freeways, no kids on playgrounds, no airplanes. The viewer hears snowfall in one episode. “It really helps the story of the people,” Benavente said of the hushed vibe. “When you hear what they’re hearing, when you feel what they’re feeling.”

bottom of page