HBO’s television adaptation of the popular video game The Last of Us has added an important new member to its crew. Johan Renck (Breaking Bad), the director of HBO’s Chernobyl, has signed on to direct the pilot episode of the new series, Screen Rant has reported.
Johan Renck will reunite with Chernobyl creator and writer Craig Mazin (The Hangover: Part II) for this new series. While Renck directed all five episodes of Chernobyl, he will only direct the pilot for The Last of Us. Renck, Mazin, and The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann will all serve as executive producers for the series.
Renck only became interested in the project after it was announced Mazin would co-write the series alongside Druckmann. The trio have frequent conference calls to discuss the original video game and how to adapt its lead characters for television, despite production setbacks due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In an interview with Discussing Film, Renck remarked that the most difficult part of this adaptation is deciding how to handle the main characters. Being video game characters, these leads already have a certain look, voice, and mannerisms to them alongside their personality and character arc. To Renck, this provides a greater challenge than adapting a character from a book.
The Last of Us was created by Druckmann and produced by the video game production company Naughty Dog, of which Druckmann is Vice President. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a strain of fungus has turned most of humanity into zombies. In The Last of Us, a smuggler named Joel escorts an immune teenage girl, Ellie, across the United States to a research center in order to develop a cure.
The game was a massive success for Naughty Dog and parent company Sony after its launch in 2013, becoming one of the best selling games on both the Playstation 3 and the Playstation 4. A sequel, The Last of Us: Part II, is set to be released on June 19th, 2020 for the Playstation 4, following a brief delay due to COVID-19. Both games are rated M for Mature. The sequel has built a great amount of anticipation, due to all-new accessibility features and Druckmann’s promises for more intense enemy encounters.
The HBO adaptation marks a rare instance of a video game being adapted for television, as opposed to film. This has become more common in recent years, with Netflix releasing an anime adaptation of Castlevania in 2017 and a live-action adaptation of The Witcher in 2019. The series will be released in 2021.