Coming off the critically acclaimed first season of The Last of Us, showrunner Craig Mazin is avoiding one thing on Season 2 to preserve his mental health.
Development of the series' sophomore effort is ongoing, as Hollywood's writers' strike seemingly continues to push back the series' eventual return.
While showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have made it clear that Season 2 will "will hit the main source material points," revisiting the franchise is giving the pair a chance to reevaluate what changes they can make to their process.
The Last of Us Season 2 Production Will Bring 1 Key Change
The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin revealed one thing he is avoiding for his mental health's sake while working on Season 2 of the HBO series.
While speaking on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Mazin remarked that this time around he is going to "try and avoid" writing while the shooting is taking place:
"Yeah, I mean… So, during Season 1, what I was doing is, I was writing this, I was still writing while we were shooting, because we were shooting over the course of basically a calendar. I’m going to try and avoid that this time, because that was not good for my mental health and I am one of those weirdos that just, I like to write it."
For Season 2, Marzin is instead "trying to get as much done ahead of time" before cameras start to roll:
"I don’t have a room. People keep telling me like, ‘What if you had a room?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, I just like writing.’ So, trying to get as much done ahead of time would be ideal. But one of the things about the way that I write is, I don’t give people a script that needs a lot of work. I don’t give them sort of, ‘Oh, here’s the thing that’s grist for the mill.’ I give them something we could shoot and then from there, refinements can be made. But I really work hard to make it what I want it to be.”
While addressing where in the development process Mazin and his co-showrunner Neil Druckmann, the screenwriter said they "have the next season laid out and [they] are writing scripts" while "beginning quite a bit in parallel:"
“We know what we’re doing. We have the next season laid out and we are writing scripts. And while we’re writing scripts, we’re also beginning quite a bit in parallel. One of the things… these shows are enormous to produce. I call them aircraft carriers. They’re just massive."
He added that they have "started the scouting process" for Season 2 and are getting started on casting as well:
"So what we do, even as I’m sitting here working on writing episodes… whatever episode I’m writing on, I won’t even say which one, we still, at the same time, need to deal with a lot of just practicals. So we’ve already started the scouting process, we’re gonna start talking about how to build certain locations, and where, and how we’re going to achieve these things, casting… that process is beginning."
But to avoid doing too much when cameras actually start rolling, Mazin lamented that he's spending most of this year writing the upcoming second season:
"And so, we have to do a lot in parallel. But this time, most of what this year is for me, even as we do all these other things to ramp up towards shooting, is writing. Everything that we do reverts back to the script. The script is the thing that that we all consult. Everybody, everyday, everyday, whether it’s in prep, or shooting, or even post. In post, we’re constantly looking back at the script. ’Well, hey, remember what it was supposed to be? Why don’t we do that right?’”
Streamlining the Last of Us Process
While this change may seem very minor, it could prove to be hugely beneficial for Craig Mazin and The Last of Us on HBO.
As a showrunner, Mazin was stretched thin on the first season as he wrote well into production, meaning he could not put his focus where it may have been needed while cameras were rolling.
Now as the screenwriter aims to "get as much done ahead of time," he (along with his co-showrunner Neil Druckmann) will be able to hold their attention even more intently on the production rather than continuing to write.
Mazin mentioned that this change is one made in an effort to help his mental health, and given the heavy material of The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II (which Season 2 will adapt), any opportunity to keep one's head in the right place while working in this world should be applauded.
And given the extra time Mazin is being given because of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike pushing back production, there is no reason he should not be setting the dominos as best he can so that when things are ready to roll he (and the rest of the Last of Us crew) can knock them all down.
The Last of Us Season 2 has no official release timing but is rumored to debut sometime in early 2025.