‘The Last of Us’ Showrunner Shares Blistering Pace of Production Prior to Strikes

One of the bigger hits of this year was the incredible adaptation of the incredibly popular video game The Last of Us. Season 2 was raring along until the strikes slammed the brakes on progress. According to the show’s writers, there was already a solid game plan in place for season 2, though they won’t be able to start filming when they wanted to.

Showrunner and writer Craig Mazin told EW that he and fellow writer and game creator Neil Druckmann were able to “map out all of season 2.”

“And I also wrote and submitted the script for the first episode and sent it in [to HBO] around 10:30 or 10:40 p.m. right before the midnight, and the strike began.”

While they can’t use any actors (the show stars Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie), Mazin said they’re keeping some below-the-line film crew members. They’re working from an outline for season 2 and the script for the first episode.

Below-the-line crew generally includes positions like boom operator, assistant director, carpenter, director of photography, and so on. Mazin said keeping those people working is “fantastic,” but that there’s probably no way they’re going to start filming on time.

“I think it’s becoming essentially a near certainty that we won’t be able to start [filming] when we were hoping to start, which is upsetting. We are all raring to go. This is what we are born to do. This is how we not only choose to live our lives, but I believe [how we] are compelled to live our lives. Otherwise, why the hell would we do this insane job? I can assure you it’s not for money.”

The second season of the show, which Druckmann and Mazin said would be rolled out through multiple seasons, is based on the sequel to the game that came out in 2020. It is one of the best games ever, and the story is incredibly different than the first in a lot of ways, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Unlike the first entry, the gameplay unfolds from Ellie’s perspective, and introduces newcomer named Abby. The game was controversial for its narrative choices, but that didn’t stop it from selling truckloads of copies. As for the new season, Mazin said he and Druckman were “mappers and outliners and planners.”

“We believe in endings, we believe in knowing where you’re going. We know where we’re going,” Mazin said. “We also give ourselves space inside of the basic route to wander and discover and invent. … What we don’t do is write narrative checks that we cannot cash later.”

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