The Last of Us: Craig Mazin Talks "Reimagining" Aspects, New Elements

It's been a little over a month since we last checked in on Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin and game writer/creative director Neil Druckmann's live-action series adaptation of popular video game franchise The Last of Us. But it looks like the wait was more than worth it, with Mazin offering up some new details to BBC Radio 5 Live's Chernobyl special. One of the first questions/concerns that fans had when the project was first announced was exactly how faithful the series would be to the video game's universe- in particular, the ending of the original game.

The Last Of Us Part 2 Black and White Credit: Naughty Dog
The Last Of Us Part 2 Black and White Credit: Naughty Dog

Mazin wants to make it clear that having Druckmann aboard shows the project's commitment to enhance the franchise and not "undo" what came before it: "I think fans of something worry that, when the property gets licensed to someone else, those people don't really understand it, or are going to change it. In this case, I'm doing it with the guy who did it [Druckmann], and so the changes that we're making are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance." That said, Mazin says there will be some "reimagining" of certain aspects of the game's story to fit a television/streaming format- and that not everyone is going to necessarily like it: "We're creating anew and we're also reimagining what is already there to present a different format. It's kind of a dream come true for me. I'm a little bit scared because a lot of emotions connected to this game are rather intense. I think I'm probably going to go hide in a bunker for a while because you can't make everyone happy!"

While it was previously announced that certain plot points from The Last of Us II would be making their way into the series' first season as a possible set-up for additional seasons, Mazin also says that the HBO series could include storylines and moments originally intended for the video game franchise: "Neil, at one point, he's like, 'You know, there was one thing we were talking about for a while,' and then he told me what it was. I was like, 'Well, that's going in. You couldn't stop me from doing that.' So we're doing that. And there's quite a few things like that where it's not like, 'Oh, we just decided, oh, wouldn't it be cool if there was one episode where Joel and Ellie get on motorcycles and confront a motorcycle gang?' That's not what we do. There's no episodic nonsense here. This is all pretty much curated. The things that are new and enhancing of the storyline we're doing are connected in organic, serious ways that fans and newcomers alike will appreciate." You can listen to the entire interview here.

Mazin and Druckmann are set to write and will join pilot director Johan Renck (Chernobyl) as executive producers on the adaptation of the Sony PlayStation video game, with Druckmann also serving as creative director. Carolyn Strauss will also executive produce along with Evan Wells, the president of Santa Monica-based game developer Naughty Dog. Sony Pictures Television is set to co-produce in association with PlayStation Productions – with the project marking the first television series from PlayStation Productions. Academy Award-winner and original game music composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) will be scoring the cable series.

Sony and Naughty Dog's video game franchise The Last of Us is an apocalyptic tale centering on the relationship between Joel, a smuggler in this new world, and Ellie, a teenager who may be key to a cure for the deadly pandemic. A hardened survivor, Joel is hired to smuggle the14-year-old girl out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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