The Last Of Us Showrunner On The Challenges Of Adapting The Game For HBO

HBO creators talk about their approach to action for The Last of Us adaptation.

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The Last of Us became a modern-day classic when it was released 10 years ago, telling a love story of a man and his surrogate daughter that faced horrors and the hope for survival. In Episode 2 of the live-action adaptation from HBO, we're introduced to the Clickers, a breed of Infected monsters that were once normal people. Prolonged exposure to the fungal brain infection has caused callused fungus to cover their eyes, rendering them blind and reliant on echolocation to know their surroundings and find their prey.

"Even though we were creating new, refreshed versions on the same brief, we kept going back to the original designs that Neil and his team created for the game," prosthetics master Barrie Gower stated in the behind-the-scenes look from Episode 2.

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However, translating their looks was only half the problem of what the team at HBO had to solve. In the game, players are introduced to Clickers via a cut scene that's also one of the game's first real jumpscares. It also presented one of the navigation puzzles players have to solve with being as quiet as possible. So how do they balance the action and still be truthful to the moments of the game?

"When you have an action sequence, it should be singular," explained showrunner Craig Mazin on Playstation's official Blog. "So, one of the things we talked about was the role of action in the show and our belief that we would appreciate the action moments more if they were each unique, separate, and apart from each other, each one of them impacting the story directly in a very clear way and either being very small or very big."

When only focusing on the main objectives, The Last of Us is about 15 hours in length of playtime. When you're dealing with an eight-episode series, there's some material that is going to end up being cut, but as game co-creator Neil Druckmann explains most of that will be in-game mechanics that have to be shown to the player.

"We don't just want Joel to sit there and say, 'Okay, this is what happens.' In the game, we actually had to do that because we wanted to make it very clear what those mechanics are. Here, we can go, 'Okay, let's do it in a very cinematic way with no dialog,'" Druckmann said. "So, Joel's putting his finger to his mouth and pointing to the ear and trying to explain to Ellie what they need to do, why it's so important to be quiet, and then demonstrate what happens when you're not. That became really important."

New episodes of HBO's The Last of Us arrive on HBO Max Sunday at 9PM EST.

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