One of 2023’s first big premieres draws viewers into a dark alternate timeline of societal collapse and mold-infested zombies — a world that’s already quite familiar to video game enthusiasts, because they’ve played it. This is why The Last of Us executive producer Craig Mazin says that in adapting the award-winning video games for HBO, he and executive producer Neil Druckmann made sure that any changes they made during the adaptation process were “always purposeful.”
“A lot of people, they go, ‘I want to adapt a thing.’ And someone says, ‘Great, you can.’ And then they’re like, ‘I’m changing all of it.’ And I’m like, ‘Well then why did you want to adapt it?'” Mazin tells Consequence during a roundtable interview. “Sometimes counterintuitively, I’m the one that’s saying, ‘You know what, Neil, I actually don’t want to wander away from what you did.'”
Starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as survivors of a deadly plague who head out on a dangerous road trip in search of hope for the future, the new series represents a new level for adaptations of video games — in part thanks to the involvement of Druckmann, the writer and director of the original source material, who serves as a writer on the series, and also directs the second episode.
But the process was also served by Mazin’s status as a self-proclaimed gamer, who was determined to getting this right: “Because the game means too much to Neil, it means too much to me, and it means too much to millions and millions of people across the world.”
Fans of the game or fans of prestige HBO dramas alike might be curious about what that all means, and below Mazin and Druckmann explain what to expect from the upcoming series, from how much has been changed from the original narrative to whether the show will match the level of violence in the games. Also, don’t get excited for this series to outrun a show like Game of Thrones, for which Mazin has a very good reason.
How Do the Last of Us Games Connect to the TV Show, Exactly?
While Druckmann’s involvement would indicate as much, Mazin confirms that the answer is pretty close: “The first season is the events of the first game. And if you have played the game, you can tell from watching the marketing materials that we’re also covering the events of the Left Behind DLC.”