HBO’s television adaptation of The Last of Us game has found the director for its pilot episode in Kantemir Balagov (Director, Beanpole), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Russian filmmaker and director found prominence in 2019 at Cannes thanks to his drama Beanpole.
Balagov’s attachment to the project comes after Chernobyl director Johan Renck was forced to step down from the project due to a scheduling conflict. As director, Renck would have been reunited with Chernobyl creator and The Last of Us series writer and executive producer Craig Mazin (Writer, Chernobyl). Mazin currently shares both his writing and executive producing roles on The Last of Us series with Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the original game.
Via The Hollywood Reporter, Balagov’s addition to the project suggests HBO’s desire for the series to have a somber and dramatic tone. Balagov’s Beanpole follows the story of two women’s dark relationship post-World War II. The 2019 film won Balagov the Un Certain Regard for best director at the Cannes Film Festival and was Russia’s submission for the 2020 Academy Awards Best International Feature Film category.
The Last of Us series will retell the story of the game which is set 20 years after the fall of modern civilization. Much like the game, the series is expected to focus on the relationship between Joel, an older survivor turned smuggler, and Ellie, a 14-year old girl with the potential to assist in finding a cure for the pandemic that has plagued their world. As they journey out of oppressive quarantine zones and through the post-apocalyptic United States, they must rely on one another and their unlikely friendship for survival.
Neil Druckmann responded to the announcement on Twitter, retweeting The Hollywood Reporter article and writing that he’s “stoked” for Balagov to join the “TloU family”.
Kantemir is a brilliant director who shares our love for Joel and Ellie’s journey. Stoked that he’s joining the TloU family. https://t.co/TKJbUaff1f
— Dr. Uckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) January 15, 2021
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures Television is currently co-producing the show along with Druckmann’s game development company Naughty Dog, PlayStation Productions, Word Games, and The Mighty Mint. A release date for the series has not yet been announced.