Former Fringe star Anna Torv has joined the cast of HBO's ambitious new series The Last of Us, inspired by the best-selling video game. Torv was cast as Tess, who played a significant role in the Naughty Dog-developed game for PlayStation 3 and 4. Torv previously starred in the Netflix series Mindhunter, which has been on "indefinite hold" since Torv and her co-stars' contracts expired in January 2020.
Tess is described as a smuggler and hardened survivor of the post-pandemic world that is The Last of Us' backdrop, reports Entertainment Weekly. Tess has a close relationship with Joel in the original game, played by Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) in the show. Tess runs the black market in the militarized quarantine zone where Joel lives. The two become known for their ruthlessness in the criminal underworld. Joel and Tess run into a resistance group and are tasked with smuggling the young Ellie (Bella Ramsey, Game of Thrones) out of the zone. It's not clear how close the series will stick to this story.
The Last of Us was first released in 2013 and written by Neil Druckmann, who developed the show with Craig Mazin (Chernobyl). The cast will also feature Gabriel Luna (Agents of SHIELD) as Joel's younger brother Tommy, Merl Dandrige as Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies resistance group, and Jerry Pierce as the rebel Perry. Nico Parker, Murray Bartlett, and Con O'Neill also star.
HBO has high hopes for The Last of Us and is sparing no expense. The series is being shot in Alberta, Canada, with Kantemir Balagov directing the pilot. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees's Calgary president Damian Petti recently hinted that each episode "exceeds the eight-figure" mark, which could mean HBO is spending as much or more than Game of Thrones. The last Game of Thrones season cost $15 million per episode.
Torv is best known for playing Olivia Dunham in Fringe (2008-2013) and Wendy Carr in Mindhunter (2017-2019). After Mindhunter wrapped, Torv went back to her native Australia to film The Newsreader for Australia's ABC.
Netflix never formally canceled Mindhunter, but Netflix put the show on "indefinite hold" earlier in 2020 so executive producer David Fincher could work on other projects. In an October 2020 interview with Vulture, Fincher said shooting two seasons of Mindhunter in Pittsburgh was "a lot for me." Even after promoting Courtenay Miles to co-showrunner, the project was a big undertaking.
“Listen, for the viewership that it had, it was a very expensive show,” Fincher said at the time. “We talked about, ‘Finish Mank and then see how you feel,’ but I honestly don’t think we’re going to be able to do it for less than I did season two. And on some level, you have to be realistic — dollars have to equal eyeballs.” A Netflix spokesperson told Vulture that the show could be revisited "maybe in five years."