The Last of Us’ Neil Druckmann Says They’d Only Consider Recasting Bella Ramsey if She Wanted to Leave
Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for HBO’s The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II.
The first season of HBO’s The Last of Us has officially ended, which means it’s time to turn the page to Season 2.
The hugely successful HBO series has been renewed for a second season that will adapt the story from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II. As fans of the game know, The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after Part I, leading to some discussion surrounding if the show would part ways with Bella Ramsey and recast the role of Ellie for the time skip.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the season finale, executive producer and Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann put those concerns to rest, saying he and showrunner Craig Mazin want to make Season 2 with Ramsey at the forefront.
“When we made the game, I felt we were incredibly lucky,” Druckmann said. “It was like lightning in the bottle that we found Ashley Johnson. I can’t imagine that version of Ellie being anybody else. And then somehow we got lightning in the bottle again with Bella.
“We are extremely lucky to have Bella and the stuff you saw throughout this entire season. The only way we would ever, ever consider recasting Bella is if she said, ‘I don’t want to work with you guys anymore.’ Even then, I’m not sure we would grant her that. We might still force her to come back to Season 2.”
Mazin shared Druckman’s enthusiasm for Ramsey’s Ellie, and he also pointed out that “[Ramsey]’s 19 now, which — by the way — is the age of Ellie in The Last of Us Part II.”
The structure and story of Season 2 are a bit of a mystery right now. Mazin has previously said that Part II is “more than a season’s worth of television, for sure,” implying they could split up the sequel into at least two seasons. Plus, the non-linear timeline of Part II’s storytelling could be presented in multiple ways.
Season 1 also routinely altered story beats from the game, most notably drastically shaking up Bill and Frank’s love story. Mazin is setting similar expectations for Season 2, saying some moments could be “radically” different than what players experienced in The Last of Us Part II.
“[Season 2] will be different just as this season was different,” Mazin said. “Sometimes it will be different radically, and sometimes it [won’t] be fairly different at all, but it’s going to be different. It will be its own thing. It won’t be exactly like the game. It will be the show that Neil and I want to make, but we are making it with Bella.”
The Last of Us HBO Series Character Guide
For more, check out our The Last of Us season finale review, which we called, “a thrillingly faithful adaptation of one video games’ greatest endings, even if it doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the original.”
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.