A rumor began to spread this afternoon that two-time Academy Award winner and former True Detective star Mahershala Ali had been offered the lead role of Joel in HBO's TV series adaptation of the hit video game The Last of Us. The report claimed that the role was "Ali's for the taking" and now we know that he didn't end up taking it. A story from The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Game of Thrones' star Bella Ramsey would take on the role of Ellie for the series, previously becoming a fan favorite as Lyanna Mormont in the fantasy series, and buried in the story was news that Ali "did circle the role" of Joel but in the end a deal never came through.
So what does this mean for the part played by Troy Baker in the video game series? It's unclear who else might be up for the part, or even who the frontrunners for the role might be. News of Ramsey landing the role of Ellie marks the first piece of casting news that has ever come to the surface about the highly anticipated project in mainstream sources, and to that end no other names for Joel have circulated either. The good news for fans eager for more updates though is that with Ramsey cast in the role it's really only a matter of time before HBO finds their Joel, perhaps even later this week we'll see who will play the grizzled gunslinger.
The Last of Us TV series will be executive produced and written by Craig Mazin, who created HBO's Chernobyl. Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the game, will also be executive producing. Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov has been tapped to direct the pilot.
"The Last of Us, a gritty emotional journey, will be coming to HBO," Jim Ryan, the President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said earlier this year. "This is just the beginning of the expansion of our storytelling into new media and even wider audiences. Sony is a creative entertainment company, and entertainment has never been more important."
"If you have played the game, our intention is that you will watch the show and say 'this has violated nothing of what I loved about the game, and what I witnessed in the game, but it has also brought me a whole lot more - things I did not know, really amazing things'," Mazin explained in an interview with Must Watch last year.
HBO's The Last of Us does not yet have a release date.