The Last of Us Had Surprising Lord of the Rings Crossover (Exclusive)

By design, Wētā FX has had its roots intertwined with those of the Lord of the Rings franchise. One of the founders of the visual effects powerhouse is Rings helmer Peter Jackson, who's helped turn the outfit into one of the biggest in the industry. Because of that, the various teams at Wētā happen to get their hands on most productions released today; as you might expect, that includes HBO's The Last of Us, with one of the vendor's teams doing extensive work on the video game adaptation. Even though Wētā has deep ties to Lord of the Rings, there was one employee whose roots went much deeper.

Gino Acevedo, one of the primary designers and sculptors behind the Gollum design, has also now designed another staple of pop culture: The Last of Us' Bloater. "Gino was heavily involved in the creation of the Bloater. He figured out all the proportions and some of the growths and yeah, it was a combination of game reference and what we had gotten from the prosthetic suit, and then what we had done in terms of concept work, and then some unreleased concept work from Naughty Dog as well, that Neil was generous enough to let us take a look at, Wētā FX supervisor Simon Jung tells us.

Dennis Yoo, the animation supervisor from Wētā that worked on the series, was ecstatic to work with the prosthetics legend. "It was pretty awesome having him on board knowing that Craig Mazin was such a fan of Lord of the Rings, when he heard that he was pretty blown away as well," the filmmaker adds.

Acevedo also had his hand in helping design the terrifying girl Clicker, which appeared in the same episode as the Bloater.

"Speaking of nightmares, that's still haunting," Jung said of the character. "It took a very long time to sell both the fact that this is a child, or used to be a child 20 years ago before she fully matured into that Clicker status. That she's a child, because of the proportions of her were really hard to sell because you don't have the eyes or you don't have a nose, you don't have really a forehead or anything that you immediately would recognize visually as the proportions of a child where everything is kind of a little bit out of scale."

For more Last of Us content, check out ComicBook and Entertainment Tonight's new podcast: The Last of Pods. The podcast includes breakdowns of each episode, interviews with special guests from the show, and more. The first season The Last of Us is now streaming in its entire on HBO Max. The Last of Pods is available where podcasts can be heard.