The Last of Us: Chernobyl director Johan Renck to helm pilot episode of HBO adaptation

Joel from The Last of Us video game
Joel from The Last of Us video game. Pic credit: Naughty Dog/Playstation

Video game adaptations are not an easy task. Not until recently did the video game movie market find some traction with Sonic the Hedgehog.

It seems HBO is ready to break ground in the television market using The Last of Us.

The game, created by Naughty Dog — the same company that made Uncharted — is one of the most celebrated of its time for both gameplay as well as its story.

The announcement of the series hit in March with Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin penning the script. This places a lot of accountability on the shoulders of everyone involved in making something worthy of The Last of Us name.

Luckily, the same visual eye of Chernobyl, Johan Renck, will also help the series find its voice in the pilot. This is great news considering how well reviewed that series was in terms of direction and writing.

Chernobyl director Johan Renck to direct The Last of Us pilot

The news broke in an interview by Discussing Film, where the outlet did an exclusive interview with the Swedish director.

In the discussion, Renck talked about whether he wanted to direct The Last of Us in the same way he tackled Chernobyl — helming every episode.

Renck explained HBO’s The Last of Us will not be a limited series, and his involvement will be only with the pilot.

It’s an ongoing TV series. So that’s not something that I will be able to take on to that extent, but I’m part of that series and I will be directing at least the pilot. Then we’ll see how it goes on further.

While it is unfortunate Renck will not serve as director for every episode, the notion makes sense given it would be a nightmare for any filmmaker to commit to directing an ongoing series.

However, it’s promising Renck will set the series’ tone when it hits the HBO service.

He further explains the differences and challenges of adapting The Last of Us in comparison to Chernobyl, citing the strong awareness being a gift and a curse:

You have for instance The Last of Us with Craig, in which you have a video game character who’s very much top of mind with anybody who’s ever played that game. More than that, they know exactly what he looks like, how he talks, how he acts, and so on and so forth…

But also it’s more different to deal with than a real person. For instance, Valery Legasov from Chernobyl because nobody had ever seen or heard of him, it wasn’t pivotal to honor anything of that.

Renck will also serve as executive producer and said he is very involved with the development and taking the calls with all the creators, including the game’s creator Neil Druckmann, to make sure the fans get something that honors The Last of Us.


When will The Last of Us tv show come out?

Ironically, a series based around a pandemic will not go into production until after a real-life pandemic.

In the interview at Discussing Film, the director himself explains that he is still in quarantine.

Most productions can take up to a year to a year and a half to finish filming. And with shooting still halted in numerous areas — the most optimistic outcome to see Joel and Ellie fight the infected is late 2021 or early 2022.

Until then, stay tuned for more updates about HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us at Monsters & Critics.

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