HBO’s The Last of Us Confirms 4 Returning Actors from PlayStation Game

HBO The Last of Us Poster
By Sam Hargrave Posted:

HBO's The Last of Us series will bring back four starring actors from the PlayStation game franchise it will adapt.

PlayStation and Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us will soon make its way to a bigger audience than ever with HBO's nine-episode first-season adaptation set to debut in January 2023 with a bulky premiere.

The star-studded cast will include The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal and Game of Thrones' Bella Ramsey in the starring roles of Joel and Ellie. The voice actors behind the pair have already expressed their ecstatic views on these castings.

Although these pop culture legends will be filling in for their gaming counterparts, that doesn't mean the original cast won't be getting involved in the HBO fun.

4 PlayStation Actors Join HBO's Last of Us

Troy Baker

Troy Baker, The Last of Us
Gage Skidmore

Long-time Naughty Dog collaborator Troy Baker will appear in what Sony has described as a "major role" in HBO's The Last of Us. The veteran voice actor previously took the lead in the first entry in the PlayStation franchise as Joel - who Pedro Pascal will bring to live-action in the upcoming series.

Baker will play James, a senior member of a group of cannibalistic settlers - a character who proved to be a secondary antagonist in the winter segment of the original game. Actor Reuben Langdon originally provided the vocal and mo-cap performance for James in the games.

Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson, The Last of Us
NBC

But Baker won't be the long PlayStation lead to tackle a "major role" in live-action, as Ellie voice actor Ashley Johnson will also be coming to the HBO series. The 39-year-old will bring Ellie's mother Anna Williams to life, despite the character having only been mentioned and never appearing in the games.

With Anna having been completely absent from the games after dying within a day of giving birth to Ellie, her appearance could mark a major change in this adaptation. However, as Johnson was shown holding a baby in the trailer, her role could also be limited to a flashback capacity. 

Jeffrey Pierce

Jeffrey Pierce
Jeffrey Pierce

After playing Joel's brother Tommy in The Last of Us games, Jeffrey Pierce will now play quarantine zone rebel Perry in the live-action series. As of now, details remain scarce about the extent of his role in the HBO adaptation, especially given a there wasn't a character named Perry in the games.

Tommy proved to be an important character in both The Last of Us and Part II, but that role will instead go to Agents of SHIELD's Gabriel Luna.

Merle Dandridge

Merle Dandridge, The Last of Us
HBO

Merle Dandridge originally gave the voice to Marlene in The Last of Us and a flashback in Part II, now she will bring that same character to live-action for HBO. The Fireflies militia leader was a close friend of Ellie's mother Anna and went on to lead a revolution against the U.S. military oppression in quarantine zones. 

And if the games are anything to go by, Marlene will likely start off as an ally assisting Joel and Ellie, before eventually becoming a major antagonist, perhaps even the primary threat of Season 1.

HBO Honors The Last of Us' Gaming Legacy

By bringing these four members of The Last of Us voice cast into the HBO adaptation, the studio has demonstrated its commitment to honoring the legacy of the games through these fun Easter egg castings.

Merle Dandridge tackling the same role in live-action that she once gave the voice to will prove interesting, especially as the actress' experience primarily lies behind the microphone. She must have delivered an impressive audition to land the job and will undoubtedly now be able to bring Marlene to life better than anybody.

However, that doesn't mean reusing the same actors as the games would be appropriate in every case, particularly in the case of Ellie who is only a child, but the actress behind her voice is 39 years old. So, using Ashley Johnson as Ellie's mother instead offers a fun way to honor that performance.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Joel, Troy Baker is almost exclusively a voice actor, so an experienced actor like Pedro Pascal was certainly a more appropriate choice for the HBO series. Nonetheless, James is still an important player in The Last of Us and may even be Baker's biggest live-action role to date.

The Last of Us will premiere the first of its nine episodes on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, January 15, 2023.