The Last of Us: Matthew McConaughey as Joel? Craig Mazin Considered It
HBO's The Last of Us co-creator Craig Mazin once considered Matthew McConaughey as Joel before a Zoom call ended up locking in Pedro Pascal.
It's hard to imagine any other actor as Joel Miller in HBO's The Last of Us. Well, maybe original voice actor Troy Baker, but Pedro Pascal continues his role as America's favorite surrogate dad joining his partner-in-crime Bella Ramsey, who plays the mysterious survivor, Ellie, as they go on a journey built around the idea that she might be the key to finding a cure to the fungal pandemic that essentially turns its victims to ravenous zombies. Speaking with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Craig Mazin, who co-created the series with Naughty Dog visionary Neil Druckmann, revealed who else was in consideration, including Blade star Mahershala Ali and Matthew McConaughey.
The Last of Us: Would Matthew McConaughey Make a Good Joel?
"I actually never talked to Mahershala," Mazin said. "I did talk to Matthew. I wouldn't say that it was serious; it was more of just like, 'Hey, here's something we can talk about.'" At first, their eventual choice wasn't available. "Initially, Pedro was on our list from the start, but we were told that he was unavailable," he revealed. "And then, as we were kinda floundering around a little bit, I got a call from his agent who said, 'You know, he actually might be available.' We got on Zoom and had what I think is the most wonderful Zoom I've ever had. Just love at first sight."
Mazin wondered out loud what could have been. "I'm sure there's a different universe where it's another actor, and look, Matthew McConaughey is an amazing actor. I'm sure it would have been great, but it would have been different. And I like the one that we made, so what can I say?" The Last of Us was originally released on PlayStation 3 in 2013 by Naughty Dog, becoming one of the console's most successful games. It led to the 2020 sequel Part II, originally released on Sony's successor console, the PlayStation 4. The first game was remade twice for the PS4 and enhanced with similar accessibility controls and mechanics from Part II in the PS5 version, rebranded as Part I.
The events of season one of HBO's The Last of Us somewhat parallel the events of the first game with some dramatic differences for TV, but the ending remains the same, with Joel saving Ellie from lethal surgery in a bloody rampage since her immunity is theorized to come from her brain. Part II, the creators reveal, will take place over the course of more than one season. As for McConaughey, he's not doing too shabby – word is he's close to finalizing a deal to front the planned Yellowstone spinoff from Taylor Sheridan.