The Last of Us showrunner talks casting "the best Ellie ever" in Bella Ramsey

The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin has spoken about the process of finding their Ellie – Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey – for the upcoming series.

Despite Pedro Pascal’s seamless leap into the lead role of The Last of Us ("I remember talking to him thinking, ‘There he is. It’s happening already. He is Joel,'" Mazin recalls), the showrunner tells SFX magazine in the new issue that casting Ellie was an altogether much more difficult experience.

"Ellie took longer because it’s a harder role to cast," Mazin explains. "We’re trying to cast a 14-year-old girl and acting is an incredibly difficult thing to do, right? It’s an easy thing to do terribly. It’s a hard thing to do okay. But it’s a really, really hard thing to do brilliantly. And children haven’t had that much life experience. It’s hard to find kids that can embody this.

"Plus, she needs to be funny, tough, violent and protective of herself. She also needs to make us believe that she’s going to have this connection with Joel, so it took longer. We saw over 100 people."

One of those 100 was Bella Ramsey. Mazin, though, was the first to see her audition ahead of his creative partner (and Naughty Dog co-president) Neil Druckmann – something he was worried about.

"The only fear that I had was because I watched her audition before Neil did, I was panicked that he wouldn’t like it and I would have to live for the rest of my life knowing that we couldn’t have the best Ellie ever," Mazin laughs. "But happily, he loved her. And we couldn’t have done better. She’s just the most remarkable performer."

The Last of Us is coming to Sky Atlantic and NOW TV from January 16 and on HBO in the US. You can read more on The Last of Us in the Teen Wolf issue of SFX Magazine, on newsstands from December 28. For even more from SFX, sign up for the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.

Freelance Writer

Tara is the NYT bestselling author (or co-author) of 30 movie and TV companion books including the upcoming official history of Marvel Studios. She's also a freelance journalist with bylines at print and online publications such as: SCI FI Magazine, Total Film, SYFY Wire,, Fandom, Fandango/, Fancast, Newsarama, Star Wars: Insider, Walking Dead Magazine, Star Trek Magazine, LOST: The Official Magazine, Alias Magazine, 24 Magazine, and She is also the U.S. Editor for the world’s premiere sci-fi/fantasy publication, SFX Magazine. She is the host and producer for SYFY Wire’s official podcasts for USA Network’s, Colony, HISTORY's Project Blue Book official podcast, and the Lost retrospective, Through the Looking Glass co-hosted with Maureen Ryan.

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