The Last of Us' Murray Bartlett opens up about Frank's untold backstory

Murray Bartlett as Frank in The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning! This article contains minor game spoilers for The Last of Us.

The Last of Us episode 3 does something that the Naughty Dog game does not, and that is have us spend time with Frank, survivalist Bill's partner. In the source material, Joel and Ellie come across Frank's body before Bill hints at their romantic connection, while the HBO series dedicates a whole 75 minutes to charting their 20-year relationship.

All that added material, though, and actor Murray Bartlett still couldn't help imagining what Frank's life would've been like before he met Bill (Nick Offerman) in 2007, four years after the Cordyceps brain infection outbreak. 

"We didn't talk about Frank's backstory together but yeah, I dreamed up a bunch of stuff," he revealed during a Q&A attended by sister publication SFX magazine. "I mean, in the first scene, there's kind of clues about where he's come from, which sort of gives you some leads about what may have happened before. All the stuff that we needed was in the script, it was really just for me to kind of invent that stuff.

"I imagined what kind of relationship he might have been in and what happened to that relationship. And that there were things that were kind of similar to this relationship from that person that was no longer around. I found that really helpful. It's such a huge thing, like, 'What was your life before? What was that trauma journey?' Linking in something about that relationship was really useful to me in terms of the relationship with Bill."

"What's interesting is that we know what Joel's backstory is, right, because we've seen it? But he's shut that right down, so the whole series is about us getting that back out of him, if you like. We unravel him," added director Peter Hoar. "So it feels like, even if [Frank], like, worked as a conductor in Vancouver and fancied men that looked like Nick Offerman, that world doesn't matter. So many people would've lived in it and not remembered who they were. You would've forgotten. Bill is the only one who doesn't, because he's the same person before it happened as after," he laughed.

The Last of Us continues on Sunday, February 5 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW TV the following day in the UK. Make sure you never miss an episode by checking out our The Last of Us release schedule and our breakdown of how many episodes are in The Last of Us.

For more from the series, check out our guide to the major Last of Us episode 3 changes from the games and a terrifying look at the Cordyceps fungus

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.