The Last of Us showrunner confirms he spoke to Matthew McConaughey about playing Joel

Matthew McConaughey in True Detective
(Image credit: HBO)

Alright, alright, alright – it seems we could have had a very different actor playing Joel in The Last of Us TV show. And while there’s no debate from our side that Pedro Pascal is the perfect Joel Miller in the HBO series, it is interesting to hear from the showrunner about who almost played the iconic character.

There have been rumors for a while that Blade star Mahershala Ali and True Detective’s Matthew McConaughey were in talks for the part. Now Craig Mazin has opened up about what conversations were actually had to Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast.

"I actually never talked to Mahershala. I did talk to Matthew," Mazin confirmed. "I wouldn’t say that it was serious, it was more of just like, 'Hey, here’s something we can talk about.' Initially, Pedro was on our list from the start but we were told that he was unavailable. And then, as we were kinda floundering around a little bit, I got a call from his agent who said, 'You know, he actually might be available.'"

Mazin said he’d sent a script off to him immediately and they jumped on a call the very next day. "Then we got on a Zoom and had what I think is the most wonderful Zoom I’ve ever had, just love at first sight." 

"I’m sure there’s a different universe where it’s another actor," Mazin continued. "And look, Matthew McConaughey is an amazing actor, I’m sure it would have been great but it would have been different. And I like the one that we made so what can I say?"

While we wait to reunite with Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us season 2, check out the latest on what the second season will actually cover and our dream casting of Abby, who’ll play a very prominent role in the new episodes. 

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.