Director of HBO's acclaimed Chernobyl series Johan Renck was originally set to direct the pilot, but has had to step away due to a scheduling conflict. In Renck's place is Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov, best-known as the director behind Closeness (2017) and Beanpole (2019), the latter of which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and won Balagov the award for Best Director.
Neil Druckmann, creative director of The Last of Us and The Last of Us 2, chimed in on the news and shared his support for Balagov as the new director for the TV series' pilot episode. "Kantemir is a brilliant director who shares our love for Joel and Ellie's journey. Stoked that he's joining the TloU family," Druckmann wrote.
Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin is still expected to write and direct The Last of Us HBO series alongside Druckmann. Mazin teased back in July that the HBO series will "expand" and "enhance" the story of The Last of Us. "I think fans of something worry that, when the property gets licensed to someone else, those people don't really understand it, or are going to change it," Mazin said. "In this case, I'm doing it with the guy who did it, and so the changes that we're making are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance."
The Last of Us TV series isn't the only PlayStation property being adapted for TV - Sony recently revealed that it's developing seven TV shows and three movies based on PlayStation franchises.