Star of HBO's The Last of Us and the games the series is based on Jeffrey Pierce addressed a potential The Last of Us Part III, changes being made in the TV series, and a whole lot more.
Pierce, who plays Kansas City revolutionary Perry in the HBO series, has the unique perspective of having been a part of both The Last of Us HBO show as well as the - now classic - PlayStation titles, portraying Joel's brother Tommy Miller in the games.
The 51-year-old has been a part of the franchise since day one, seeing all the different iterations the series has taken and getting to watch it grow into one of the biggest TV shows running right now, with mega-stars like Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay taking on starring roles in this post-apocalyptic drama.
Sitting Down with Jeffrey Pierce
In an exclusive interview with The Direct's Klein Felt, Jeffrey Pierce (best known for playing Tommy in The Last of Us video games) broke down a number of subjects, including the idea of The Last of Us Part III.
When asked about a potential third entry in the acclaimed PlayStation franchise, Pierce said that he "[doesn't] know anything" about Part III:
“Well, the irony is that if I did know anything, I couldn’t say, but I don’t know anything and I’m being completely honest about that. I do not know anything. And even if they get greenlit and call me tomorrow like, ‘Hey, let’s do this game,’ that’s exactly what I would have to say. But I honestly don’t know."
He remarked that "it's not going to happen unless the right story ferments" but thinks "it would be great if it [did]:"
"And Neil [Druckmann] has said very clearly that it’s not going to happen unless the right story ferments, and that’s not the case right now. So we’ll see what happens. I hope so. It would be great if it does. If it doesn’t, I think that the ending for Part II right now is as stunning, and painful, and provocative as you could hope for.”
Pierce, who also got the opportunity to appear in HBO's adaptation of the video game series as Perry, broke down how he got the TV role.
He said he actually "read for a different part." But after it wasn't a good fit, the showrunners Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin told him "[they would] keep [their] eyes out of something else pops up:"
“I mean Craig is a huge fan of the game, but he didn’t know me beyond that as an actor. So, when they were first putting things together, I read for a different part, and they came back eventually and said it was a really good read, but we’re just not going to believe you as this sort of potential victim. We just don’t think you’re going to lose in this situation. So, we’ll keep our eyes out of something else pops up, we’ll let you know."
Then, a couple of weeks later, Druckmann came back to the Tommy actor telling him "here’s the scripts, this is the role, do you want to do it?" Pierce responded "I don’t even have to read the scripts, and the answer is yes:"
"And a couple of weeks later, Neil called and said, ‘Hey man, here’s the scripts, this is the role, do you want to do it?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t even have to read the scripts and the answer is yes, but I’ll read them.’ And when I read them. I was really excited."
He called the TV show a "no pressure" experience for him, being able to "come in and do [his] job" without everything "hinging on [his] performance:"
"I mean, it’s great in so many ways, because there’s no pressure on me. I just have to come in and do my job and do my work to the best of my ability. But it’s not hinging on my performance and they’re not relying, you know, so it was as stress-less an experience as you can imagine. And I had a ball, and Melanie [Lynskey] is amazing to the work.”
And Pierce was not alone in making the jump from the games to the TV series with Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, and Merle Dandridge all getting to be a part of the HBO show.
When prodded on if he and his video game co-stars keep up with each other, the actor lamented that "when [they’re] together, [they’re] family," but "[they] don’t have matching jackets" or anything:
“When we’re together, we’re family for life… We don’t have matching jackets, but we could have matching jackets in terms of like you walk back in and it’s like no time has passed."
He did mention that he and Troy Baker talk "a lot" though, as the pair are working to "develop some things:"
"When we’re together, we’re family for life… We don’t have matching jackets, but we could have matching jackets in terms of like you walk back in and it’s like no time has passed. I talk to Troy a lot. We’re trying to develop some things together. And so it’s great to engage in that way. But you know, life is full with the kids and families… it keeps things busy for sure.”
Then, looking back on how far The Last of Us has come since its humble beginnings on the PlayStation 3, Pierce said that with anything, "the key to keeping people coming back, what people are looking for is to have an actual experience," and from day one The Last of Us had that:
“Yeah, I mean, I think that, just speaking as someone as an actor, the key to keeping people coming back, what people are looking for is to have an actual experience. They want to be moved. They want to be given an opportunity to learn about humanity by being moved, from the Greeks to today. That’s the purpose of theater. That’s the purpose of TV, and film is an extension of that."
He opined that "most of the time, we don’t get that:"
"Most of the time, we don’t get that. We get entertainment. And that sort of is a really zero calorie substitute for something that’s gonna make you think, something that’s gonna make you cry, something that’s gonna move you as a person, and maybe change when you get to the other side of it."
However, remembering "the first table read" for Naughty Dog's 2013 PS3 epic, he could tell "this was going to be something that was going to hit people in the world:"
"When we did the first table read, you could feel the energy in the room. You could feel it just humming with that sort of emotional touch. And so, I had a pretty strong instinct that that was going to be something that was going to hit people in the world."
After that first table read, it was "[shooting] Sarah’s death" when he knew "that is [was going to be] a powerful experience:"
"And when we shot Sarah’s death, everybody on that stage was moved to tears by the end of the first take. And I said to Neil that this is gonna be something where 15 year old kids all over the world are going to stand in front of their TVs and cry for maybe the first time as a young adult. And that is a powerful experience and that’s exactly what happened. And that’s what we see happening in the world, is the show impacts people and that’s that’s just incredibly satisfying.”
The Future of The Last of Us
It is always encouraging to hear someone as deeply involved in something as Jeffrey Pierce has been with The Last of Us (TLOU) talk so highly about it. Listening to him speak, one can easily tell that Pierce holds this franchise so dear.
As for where TLOU goes next remains a little murky. The only things on the docket are the currently running HBO series, its newly announced Season 2, and the upcoming multiplayer game.
In talking with Pierce about The Last of Us Part III, it certainly seems that nothing official currently happening on that front.
Game director and co-president of Naughty Dog Neil Druckmann hinted at the threequel, saying that they would not do it unless "a really good, compelling story" presented itself.
Right now, Naughty Dog seems occupied with The Last of Us multiplayer game and whatever unannounced projects it may be hiding as well, but The Last of Us Part III looks as though it is not currently high on the priority list for Druckmann.
If a third game happens, it happens, and surely, Jeffrey Pierce will be there ready to go if and when that day comes.
HBO's The Last of Us airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.