The other big part is this wasn’t something where a company bought the rights to a thing and then went around going, “Hey, we want to exploit this I.P.” This was me and Neil Druckmann, the creator of the game, coming to HBO and saying, “We want to do this out of love.” So we came at it from a place of purity.
What was the most challenging part of bringing the series to life?
The size. There are more words to write, more days to plan, more actors to cast, more stunts to approve. It becomes an endurance test. We shot for 200 days, living away from home during Covid — my wife couldn’t even come to the set because it was a violation of the Covid rules. It was a very arduous thing to do day in and day out in the heat, in the freezing cold, in the rain and the snow. And yet, we did it, a bit like women who go through labor and are like, “Oh my God, I’m never doing that again,” and then a few years later are like, “Maybe I would do that again.” I’m that mom who’s like, “I think I want to do it again.”
What are you most excited about for Season 2?
I like tracking the growth and evolution of people, and I like the way we get to continue this show but do a season that is not the same. The thing about “The Last of Us” is that the story is constantly moving — we don’t live in the same neighborhood; we don’t go back to the same shop or store or house. Even episode to episode within a season feels like we’re in different places, different kinds of movies. So, more of that.
There are a number of other popular video game franchises with film and TV adaptations in the works, including “Twisted Metal,” “Ghost of Tsushima” and “Assassin’s Creed.” Can the model for “The Last of Us” be replicated?
If they are starting from a place of purity, a place of creative passion, then anything is possible. If the source material has great stuff to adapt — and ideally, if its creator has the kind of generosity and intellectual flexibility that Neil Druckmann has — then you have a real chance of doing something that makes the fans happy but also makes new people happy. What’s the point of making the show if you’re only making it for the people who read the book, or who played the game?
That’s why Neil wanted to do an adaptation in the first place: There are millions of people who will never pick up a controller and never play the game. They will never know this story, and he wanted them to know it. And if people are coming at it like that, they have a real shot.