Ask anyone that's confronted a Clicker in their gaming lifetime, and chances are they'll speak highly of Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic award-winning entry, The Last of Us. The game was a gut-wrenching road trip across a virus ridden world, led by Joel and his 'special cargo' Ellie, a young girl that holds the key to bringing mankind back from the brink.
After yanking a truck load of awards, it was no surprise it got the attention of Hollywood. Dramatic, action-packed and at times simply horrifying, its appeal led the game's creator Neil Druckmann to pen a movie script a while back.
Finally, a game-changing video game-to-film adaptation could be about to boot up, right? Wrong. As a rather upsetting report was revealed this week, Druckmann has confirmed that The Last of Us film has fallen into the chasm of development hell.
Still, whilst our hopes of Joel and Ellie making their way to the big screen have been dashed, that can't stop a fan wondering "what if?" The Last of Us has one of the most compelling stories ever put to gaming pixels, and with the right cast could draw in an outside audience as well. But who could be added to the roster? Well, here are a few ideas:
In a perfect world, voice actor Troy Baker would don Joel's tattered wardrobe after bringing the character to life in the original game. Unfortunately, the truth is that his vocal chords are more known than his face. For this role, we're going to need a well-known actor who could play a gruff and reluctant protector standing on his head, and can also bring some emotional heft to the character in the process. That's why Hugh Jackman is a perfect fit for the hero of the day.
Having already played the reluctant hero a dozen times as Wolverine in X-Men, one standout role that should make him a winning choice is the vigilante father in Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners. Willing to go further than the law would allow to find his missing daughter, Jackman's turn as the ordinary man pushed to extraordinary limits makes him an ideal choice for our hero who is just barely dealing with making it to tomorrow. Of course, with a talent this big he's going to need a good co-star to work with, and if rumors are true they've found the perfect choice.
Shortly after the discovery that The Last of Us was trudging through the pipeline, a number of names were being thrown around for the casting. One that stuck for the role of Ellie, however, was a talent that has gained undeniable acclaim for her previous work, and wouldn't be a bad choice either; Game Of Thrones star and Needle-wielder, Maisie Williams.
Easily one of the greatest talents from HBO's hit TV show, Maisie Williams could probably see where Ellie is coming from and probably where she's going, too. In Game of Thrones, Williams' Arya has had a tumultuous journey where she's been paired with reluctant protectors and been forced to protect herself, as well. Wandering lands that are no place for girls and being forced to grow up because of it, there really couldn't be a better fit for the part. If they haven't already approached her for the role, they really should do.
Now that we have our leading pair ready and waiting (okay, not really but just work with me here), it's on with the remaining gaps that need to be filled in this mad, sad, spore-filled word. Next in the line-up is Joel's work colleague and smuggling work-mate, Tess. A woman who has got the lay of the land that Joel has no real care for and makes a brave choice when desperate times arrive. She's a strong character and understandably needs a strong actress to tackle the role as a result. In which case, step forward Carla Gugino.
An actress who's been having ups and downs in films of late (great in the likes of Watchmen and Sin City, but not so much in San Andreas), Gugino would make a great fit for Tess. She's able to play the hardened heroine who has the lay of the land, and could portray the maternal side when she crosses paths with Ellie, and even more so when she's forced to part ways.
Now just because Troy Baker can't play the hero, doesn't mean The Last of Us can go without him. During the game, tragedy strikes Joel very early on, meaning he and his brother Tommy part ways only to be reluctantly reunited. Tommy is Joel's younger, slightly more optimistic, brother who hasn't been hit as hard as our hero, which makes Baker a perfect fit for the role.
Already knowing the story inside and out, getting Baker on board would not only break him into a territory we rarely see him in, but would be a nice nod to the fans that have stuck with the game to begin with. Also, as great as Jackman is, it wouldn't hurt to give him pointers on the role from the man who played him first.
On Joel and Ellie's travels, they come across an array of characters; some good, and some bad. Joel's gear man, Bill, sits somewhere right in the middle. A paranoid recluse who has made a living (if you can call it that) out of the apocalypse, he's no stranger to the horrors the world now holds and has become embittered by it. It's this skewed perception of a world gone mad that makes Bill 'Game Over' Paxton the perfect fit for the role.
Bill is a man on edge, short tempered and rough around the edges, who doesn't take kindly to strangers. Not one for having any major roles of late, this could be the perfect gig for Paxton to get in on and remind the world why he's so sorely missed. What with his intense training in areas being overrun by monstrous creatures with Aliens, a few nasty Clickers shouldn't be any problem at all.
To say there are casualties in The Last Of Us is an understatement, but none are more tragic than that of Henry and his younger brother, Sam. Two equally unfortunate souls running through streets of this abandoned world, Joel comes to blows but finally sees eye to eye with the pair during a heated encounter. It's a brief meeting cut short by fate, but one that could really give a chance for an actor to shine. One that might be able to deliver in such a role would be Straight Outta Compton's O'Shea Jackson.
A chip off the old Ice Cube, this could be an impressive turn for Jackson in a role that doesn't require him to tell the police to go eff themselves. Instead, this is a small part with an emotional impact that could be a highlight in the film, pushing his acting capability further and impressing audiences because of it.
Ah, David. This manipulative piece of sh*t. Fans of the game will know his entry and exit from the story and won't be able to deny he's a nasty piece of work. Originally a fairly unsuspecting character among many, David sets his eye on Ellie and is an invaluable chapter in our heroine's story. Considering that he's a character that goes from good to bad quite quickly, the only person that would fit the role perfectly would be the incredible John Hawkes.
A face that might be familiar to some but known by few, Hawkes is an actor that always delivers in every role he plays. Known for his appearance in Deadwood, and also gaining attention for his role in The Sessions where he played a man in an iron lung, Hawkes' transition from ally to enemy would be great to watch.
One character that needs to be just right for their part in Joel and Ellie's story is Marlene, leader of the resistance known as the Fireflies and a woman whose agenda is only clarified in the closing moments of the story. Marlene is a woman who has a level of respect amongst the ranks and can throw a staring match with Joel and win when necessary. Naomie Harris could just be the one to take on this role.
No stranger to apocalyptic worlds thanks to Danny Boyle's harsh and horrific film 28 Days Later, Harris can deliver that tough around the edges and dead around the eyes femme fatale. Though she might not have had the best run of appearances recently, thanks to her rather mild Moneypenny gig in the Bond films (which might not last if they're looking for a new double-O), she's proven on a number of occasions that she can carry a scene when she needs to and with a story like The Last of Us, she may just get to lead it.
These are all dream choices of course, in a film that may be a bit further from happening than it once was. Should the wheels start turning again somewhere down the line, these choices certainly wouldn't be bad ones. Or would they?