Will we ever get a good video game film? Let’s face it; Video Games are a fairly new artistic medium. Films have been around for over a century, still evolving and changing each and every year. Video Games have only recently started to be taken seriously as a medium that can tell intelligent, beautiful and thought provoking stories. Sure, gameplay is still considered to be the most important aspect of a video game to most, but a great gameplay can benefit from a great story and it’s rare that a game succeeds in both. The Last of Us does just this.
Naughty Dog & Sony’s The Last of Us was hugely successful both critically and financially in 2013. It was not only one of the best video games released last year but one of the best stories depicted in any medium in 2013. It also has the chance to be the first “good” video game adaptation. The pieces are in place.
Last week, to no one’s surprise, Sony has announced that it is teaming with Sam Raimi, Ghost House Pictures and Screen Gems to release a Last of Us film. Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra will produce, alongside Raimi, and game directors Bruce Staley and Neil Druckmann. Also, in a move that is sure to put faith in doubters, Naughty Dog creative director, Neil Druckmann, will pen the film’s script.
While it’s tough to get excited for a film based on a video game due to decades of poor track records, the team involved with The Last of Us film should give fans faith that the movie could live up to the high standards set by the game.
With Neil Druckmann confirmed to write the script, we could only hope composer Gustavo Santaolalla returns to do the film’s score. Based on the information given and if we had complete creative control over the director and cast, here is who we would have involved with The Last of Us film.
**WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US**
Director – Sam Raimi
It only makes sense now that Raimi is producing under his Ghost House Pictures banner that the Evil Dead director would return to his horror origins and direct The Last of Us film. There are rumors he may write and direct a follow up to Army of Darkness but The Last of Us may be a safe but similar choice for the filmmaker. The Last of Us’ blend of big budget and drama/horror is perfect for the filmmaker. If it is also a success, Sony could grant him to make his Army of Darkness sequel. Raimi is comfortable working with special effects and a large budget but could also bring a terrifying touch that the film will need. Having full control under his studio and working with Druckmann could mean we could get the big budget R-Rated Last of Us film the fans deserve.
Josh Brolin as Joel
Once you picture Josh Brolin as Joel, it’s hard to see anyone else playing the hardened Texan survivor. Brolin has proven himself as a star with films like No Country For Old Men, True Grit, Men in Black 3, and Gangster Squad. Sure, he hasn’t always made the best choices (remember Jonah Hex?), but has always shown he is up for new and interesting challenges. Brolin can perfectly display both the badass and more tender moments of Joel and would be a perfect choice to lead The Last of Us.
Hailee Steinfeld as Ellie
Yes, we all know that Ellie looks a lot like Ellen Page. It would be the easy way out to say Page should play Ellie in a Last of Us film, but Ellen Page is almost 30 years old and while she still does look very young, it would be more suiting to cast someone closer to Ellie’s age than go the route of Ellen Page. This leads us to the choice of Hailee Steinfeld, Brolin’s True Grit co-star. It’s known that the Coens are good friends with Raimi and it wouldn’t be a shock if he gets the advice of his friends on the duo on Brolin & Steinfeld. They had good chemistry in True Grit and are familiar with one another, so this could work very well. Steinfeld is also a bit more experienced now, working on films such as Romeo & Juliet and Ender’s Game. She also could handle the more innocent and tender moments of Ellie alongside some of the darker moments.
Kerry Washington as Marlene
Marlene, a former friend of Ellie’s mother and the leader of the Fireflies (an anti-military militia group) could be considered the film’s primary villain, although the morality of everything occurring in The Last of Us could be argued. She is one of the few left searching for a cure to the horrible cordyceps brain infection and will do anything to obtain it. Kerry Washington has proved as of late in both Django Unchained and Scandal that she can handle being front and center playing emotionally devastating, powerful and complicated characters. She would be a perfect fit for Marlene whom shares many of the same characteristics mentioned. A complicated role that is not quite a villain or hero, Washington easily has the ability to make us like her and hate her at the same time.
Hilary Swank as Tess
While Tess’ role in The Last of Us is a small one, her relationship with Joel is integral to the pairing of Joel and Ellie. Tess is the closest person to Joel before meeting Ellie and she deserves a great actress to play her on screen. Two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank hasn’t been extremely busy as of late, and could be a great fit for the role. She’s won awards for playing a transgendered man and a female boxer, so playing a hardened smuggler in a ravaged Boston quarantine zone should be easy. Just thinking of Swank and Brolin taking on a group of Runners and Clickers sounds fantastic.
Willow Shields as Sarah
A small but integral role in the opening moments of The Last of Us, Joel’s daughter Sarah sets up the entire relationship between Joel and Ellie. Willow Shields has shown she can bring an emotional weight in a short amount of screen time as Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games and this could translate very well to The Last of Us.
Josh Holloway as Tommy
Both Joel’s brother and a former member of the Fireflies, Tommy plays an important part in the events of The Last of Us. Seen both in the opening moments of the story before the outbreak and midway through Joel and Ellie’s story, Tommy is a former friend of Marlene and the reason she trusts Joel to take Ellie across the country. Former LOST alum Josh Holloway is due for a good cinematic role and would be a no-brainer for Joel’s brother Tommy. He’s got the look, the voice, the right age and can handle himself in the action sequence at the power plant. Just like with Brolin and Joel, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Tommy.
Claire Daines as Maria
An extremely small role that could even be considered a cameo, the large ensemble cast of The Last of Us would welcome Claire Daines as Maria, Tommy’s wife and the leader of a settlement holding up in a power plant. Daines hasn’t done much film lately due to her busy schedule as Carrie Matheson on Showtime’s Homeland so she would be perfect for the small role that shouldn’t take her away from the series. In The Last of Us Joel explains Maria kind of “scares him” and there is no one else other than Claire Daines that could bring the extremely serious Maria to life.
John Hawkes as David
How perfect is John Hawkes as David? The film’s most villainous character, David originally befriends Ellie in a time of need before revealing himself as the leader of a group of cannibals. Hawkes has proven time and time again that he can play both the sweet and sincere and the extremely vicious. He has just recently worked with Brolin on Everest releasing in 2015 and would be extremely fitting to join our version of The Last of Us. His role as the creepy cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene should have anyone convinced that he is absolutely perfect to play David.
Robert Pattinson as James
The role of James, David’s second in command of the Cannibals might not have as much screentime as Pattinson is looking for at the moment, but would be a great fit for the young actor most know from the Twilight series. He has been working with filmmakers such as David Cronenberg and Wener Herzog as of late (which should tell you something) and a small role in The Last of Us film could show audiences that he is indeed a solid actor and we can move on from his Twilight days. Pattinson has the edge and creepiness that James embodies and it would be great to see him alongside Hawkes as two of the most vicious characters in the film.
Michael B. Jordan as Henry
One of the hottest young actors working in Hollywood at the moment, Michael B. Jordon has numerous projects on his plate including a new franchise in Josh Trank’s Fanastic Four, taking the role as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. After witnessing his extremely strong and emotional performance in the indie Fruitvale Station, Jordan would be well suited as Henry, a survivor who meets Joel and Ellie on their journey to Salt Lake City with his brother Sam. Jordan has the chops to handle this significant portion of the story as well as one of the most shocking and emotionally charged scenes in the film. Jordan’s career has only just begun and The Last of Us would be another impressive addition to his already impressive resume.
Jaden Smith as Sam
After the disaster that was After Earth, Jaden Smith should look to rebound and taking a supporting role in The Last of Us could be the perfect opportunity. A meaty role in the middle of The Last of Us narrative, Sam is brothers with Henry and teams with Joel and Ellie for a short period of time in Pittsburgh. Jaden has been the lead in two films, but he could work out nicely in a smaller role. His father Will could also give him some great tips as he was the lead in the film I am Legend which is similar to The Last of Us.
Ted Raimi as Robert
If we have Sam Raimi taking the reigns and directing our Last of Us film, we must have Ted Raimi somewhere. Look no further than the role of Robert, a perfect cameo opportunity for the director’s brother. A small role as Robert, an arms dealer that gets caught up with the Fireflies as well as Tess and Joel. Ted holds the acting chops and could look sleazy enough to play an arms dealer in a ravaged earth filled with mutated creatures.
Bruce Campbell as Bill
It wouldn’t be a Sam Raimi film without Bruce Campbell. Whether the Evil Dead director chooses to direct the film or not, Campbell would be a great choice to play the paranoid survivor Bill. A nod to his horror roots, Campbell playing an expert survivor in a an earth filled with monsters seems like a no brainer. Bill is a skilled mechanic and builds various traps around his safehouse and seems to share a past relationship with Joel. It would be great to see Campbell in the spotlight once again with something that is somewhat larger than a Cameo but nothing overwhelming.
Sydney Park as Riley
It’s not known if Neil Druckmann and company will want to incorporate Ellie’s backstory and Riley into the main story, but we wouldn’t be surprised if she somehow is integrated into the film. Take this as a “maybe”, but if we end up seeing Riley in The Last of Us film, Sydney Park seems like a good choice. Mostly seen in Disney television shows, Park has also been a part of an episode of Entourage as well as a recurring role on CSI:NY. She is of similar age of Hailee Steinfeld, and the pairing could be very sweet if they decide to explore Ellie’s backstory told in both American Dreams and Left Behind. This could be a breakout role for Park and it would be great to see Riley a part of the film.