Craig Mazin, the Emmy award-winning writer behind Chernobyl and The Hangover movie series, is working alongside Neil Druckmann on The Last of Us TV show for HBO. He’s now shared some intriguing new details about what to expect, including that the show will feature storylines that Druckmann originally had in mind for the game that didn’t make it for one reason or another.
Speaking to the BBC (via Eurogamer), Mazin reflected on a conversation he had with Druckmann, who shared an anecdote with him about something that was cut from the game.
Mazin said Druckmann told him, “There was one thing we were talking about for a while, and then he told me what it was, and I was like … jaw drop … OK … that’s going in. For sure, we have to do that. You will have to shoot me to stop me from doing that.”
Mazin did not share more details about this, but he said it’s part of a wider ambition to make the Last of Us TV show new and exciting for people who already played the game.
“Our intention is you will watch the show and say, ‘This has violated nothing about what I loved about the game and what I witnessed in the game, but it has also brought me a whole lot more. Things that I did not know.'”
Mazin added that he was not surprised that The Last of Us movie that Sony tried for years to make never materialized. The writer said the joy of a good story like The Last of Us’ is in its length and the slow burn of character development and relationships.
“It had to be in this format,” Mazin said of The Last of Us as a TV show as opposed to a movie.
Also in the interview, Mazin confirmed that he and Druckmann have mapped out the “first cycle” of The Last of Us TV show, and then next stage is to begin writing the scripts.
He also spoke about why he believes The Last of Us TV show will succeed where other video game adaptations have struggled. Mazin also reflected on how the changes to the story that he and Druckmann are writing for the show are meant to expand, not undo, the original game.
“The one anxiety that I think fans of something have is that when the property gets licensed to someone else, those people don’t really understand it or are going to change it or make it stupid. And in this case, I’m doing it with the guy who did it [Neil Druckmann],” Mazin said. “So the changes that we’re making are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance. We’re doing both–we’re creating the new and we’re also reimagining what is already there to present it in a different format. It’s kind of a dream come true for me.This is one I’ve been thinking about on my own as a fan for a long, long time.”
“I’m a little scared because everybody’s emotions connected to this game are, uh, rather intense [laughs],” he said. “I think I’m probably going to hide in a bunker for a while [when it comes out] because you can’t make everybody happy.”
More generally, Mazin also mentioned that while The Last of Us TV show will follow the story of the original game, it won’t be a beat-for-beat re-telling of the game. Writing for a game, where you control the character and largely stay with that person the whole time, is very different than writing for a TV show where the story bounces between numerous characters that you watch passively, Mazin said.
“Everything we’re doing is being done with extreme care and thoughtfulness for what we know we love about it,” Mazin said. “Our goal is not to keep you in love with The Last of Us, it’s to make you fall in love the Last of Us in a different way. It’s a passive way–you’re taking it in, you’re not playing it but you are experiencing more, with more characters, in more ways. I think we’ve got something good going.”
Finally, Mazin said you should not expect to see The Last of Us TV show anytime soon. He mentioned that HBO has given him a good level of freedom in regards to timing, with the network prioritizing quality over a release date in the near future. He also pointed out that the Hollywood industry is in a difficult place these days with COVID-19 impacting filming schedules around the world. There have been no casting announcements, either, so we don’t know who will play Joel and Ellie in the show.
In addition to The Last of Us TV show, Mazin is writing the Borderlands movie.
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