HBO's 'The Last of Us' Casts Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie for Blockbuster Video Game Series

One of the most anticipated castings of the year with HBO's adaptation of the blockbuster video game, The Last of Us, has now been finalized with the creators of the series now confirming actors and Game of Thrones alums, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey at the forefront playing lead characters, Joel and Ellie, respectively. After news broke Thursday night, Pascal took to Twitter to express his excitement, alongside a mind-blown emoji and a skull, writing, "these are the right emojis, yeah?"

After months of speculation regarding the casting with fans on social media favoring Booksmart and Last Man Standing star Kaitlyn Dever and rumors of True Detective's Mahershala Ali taking on the role of Joel, Deadline broke the news of the high-profile series adaptation for the Sony Playstation franchise from Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Druckmann also expressed his excitement on social media, writing he was "stoked to have Pedro aboard our show!"

Based on the critically acclaimed video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog for Playstation, the story takes place 20 years following the end of modern civilization. Joel, played by Pascal, is a hardened survivor tormented by his own past trauma and failure. When he is soon hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of an oppressive quarantine zone, it seems like a menial task but takes a heartbreaking turn as the pair must walk across the U.S. and depend on one another for survival. Working to protect the girl who represents the last hope of humanity, the role is a major one for Pascal, who was last seen playing a patriarchal figure in Star Wars: The Mandalorian — a role that has garnered him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama Series. He will continue starring on the Disney+ series, where the showrunners use him sparingly due to the nature of his role in full Mandalorian gear.

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The Last of Us marks a homecoming for Pascal, who became a household name with his role as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones — a series he shared with co-star Ramsey, best known for her breakout role as the fierce Lyanna Mormont. Though no official airdate has been set, the series will be co-produced by Sony Pictures Television, with PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and game developer Naughty Dog producing.