At Comic-Con last week producer Sam Raimi spilled the beans on the upcoming movie adaptation of Naughty Dog's praise-magnet of a video game, The Last of Us.
The film project, which is still in its early stages of pre-production, might be taken more seriously than the vast majority of game-based shlock we’re used to seeing in theatres each year. At the Screen Gems Comic-Con panel Friday, Sam Raimi addressed the upcoming movie version of The Last of Us, an adaptation that has many fans of the original video game very anxious. The game has been showered with critical praise for its thoughtful storytelling, gorgeous environments and strong gameplay. In fact, this week the game is being released a second time for PS4 and early buzz indicates it will be a hit all over again, despite offering little more than upgraded visuals in the new edition.
The original game’s synopsis:
“Joel, a ruthless survivor with few moral lines left to cross, lives in one of the last remaining Quarantine Zones. These walled-off, oppressive cities are run by what’s left of the military. Despite the strict martial law, Joel operates in the black market of the city, smuggling contraband for the right price. Joel is asked by a dying friend to look after Ellie, a fourteen-year-old girl with courage beyond her years. What starts out as a simple job to deliver Ellie to another Quarantine Zone, soon transforms into a profound journey that will forever change Joel and Ellie.
As they journey across a post-pandemic United States, Joel and Ellie will encounter different factions of survivors that have each found a unique way of dealing with the infected humans, the lack of supplies, and the threat of other survivors. As Joel and Ellie struggle to persevere, they must learn to trust each other and work together in order to survive the realities of this new world.”
The biggest news that should put fans of The Last of Us at ease is the hiring of Neil Druckman, the creative director for the original game, as the movie’s screenwriter. Druckman reportedly has also been given some serious control over the adaptation, which includes oversight for the film’s casting and director choices.
Speaking of which, The Last of Us doesn’t have a director just yet, but the panel revealed that the bigwigs are already looking at prospects for their live action Joel and Ellie. Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) is already on their radar to play the 14-year old Ellie, with the idea being tossed about informally on Twitter as far back as April:
— Christian Nava (@Viscant) April 16, 2014
— Ashley Johnson (@TheVulcanSalute) April 17, 2014
— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) April 18, 2014
— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) April 19, 2014
While Williams’s casting is far from confirmed, she was apparently willing to sit in on the Screen Gems panel, had she not been preoccupied with an Entertainment Weekly photo shoot taking place at the same time.
In terms of who will be playing the movie’s other major lead, both Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) and Josh Brolin (The Goonies) were mentioned as desirables for the role of Joel. Brolin would make perfect sense as the tight-lipped, hardened survivor – Back in December 2013 Troy Baker, who voiced and motion captured the character in the video game, revealed on The Indoor Kids podcast that he based much of his inspiration for Joel off of Josh Brolin’s performance in No Country For Old Men.
Casting the two protagonists will be a very important decision for Druckman and Raimi to make. If the film version of The Last of Us is anything like the game, whoever ends up playing Joel and Ellie will have a huge amount of screentime. The video game has a very short list of characters, and most of the story is punctuated by quiet moments between just the two survivors.
With the details of The Last of Us reaching its end, Sam Raimi took the liberty of teasing his Evil Dead TV series, which he says is also in its early stages of development:
“It’s gonna be a great character journey, a great love story, and great horror fiction…I always loved working on that series with Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, and my brother and I are writing the Evil Dead TV show right now … with Bruce Campbell.”
Of course, we’d love to see more Evil Dead from Raimi, whose name can’t be mentioned without conjuring up images of that iconic cabin in the woods. Hopefully Bruce Campbell can make an appearance on the show as well, even if he won’t be strapping the chainsaw to his hand as Ash this time around.
Images: Naughty Dog, Sony