Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann says HBO’s The Last of Us TV show “will be the best, most authentic game adaptation”.
In an interview with the New Yorker (thanks, Comicbook), Druckmann said he hoped that the show will “put that video-game curse to bed”, although screenwriter Craig Mazin acknowledged that it’s “not the highest bar in the world” to become a great adaptation given some games, like Assassin’s Creed, have “impenetrable” storylines.
“I love the ability to wander, to do nothing, in Skyrim,” Mazin said, before adding that “that is not translatable!” By contrast, however, he said that “The Last of Us was always a story where the story comes first”.
After acknowledging Naughty Dog’s “troubled” history of adaptations – including the Uncharted film which Druckmann says is “fun” – Druckmann and Mazin discussed how the show came to be, with the latter reflecting that “watching a person die ought to be much different than watching pixels die” and that the story should be the focus, not action.
“Joel’s skill with evading bullets is the least important thing,” Mazin said. Which, by the way, is where video-game adaptations have gone wrong so many times – they try to replicate the action. It’s just the wrong medium. That’s that. This is this.”
The interview also details how the pair considered “the toll Joel’s life would have had on him physically”.
“So, he’s hard of hearing on one side because of a gunshot. His knees hurt every time he stands up,” Druckmann said, with Mazin adding: “I guess there’s a tone where Tom Cruise can do anything. But I like my middle-aged people middle-aged”.
As for how Druckmann thinks fans will react to the show?
“I think it will change things,” Druckmann said. “Sometimes adaptations haven’t worked because the source material is not strong enough. Sometimes they haven’t worked because the people making it don’t understand the source material.” He also revealed that his next project will be “structured more like a TV show”.
HBO’s TV adaptation of Naughty Dog’s series debuts next month. Starring Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie, this adaptation kicks off 15th January in the US, which makes for a 16th January launch here in the UK on Sky Atlantic.