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The Last of Us showrunner is already preparing for some ‘furor’ around season 2: ‘There usually is’

Given the intense reaction to the video game, Craig Mazin is already mentally preparing for how viewers are going to take the events of season 2. But 24 Emmy nominations offer some comfort that he’s on the right track.

As The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin heads into season 2 — now with 24 Emmy nominations given to the show from the Television Academy on Wednesday — he’s already preparing for some kind of fan «furor» around the new episodes. Given how intensely gamers reacted to the Last of Us Part II video game back in 2020, and also how viewers initially reacted to season 1 of the show, it seems inevitable.

«I’m never gonna say there are things that are gonna happen in the show that happened in the game. You never know what we’re gonna do,» Mazin tells EW over the phone amid celebrating the show’s epic Emmy nom haul. «But I will say that it is the adventure, the journey is the point. There are things that will shock people, things that were in the game, things that were not in the game, and that’s okay. As long as they’re purposeful, they’re not there to just simply shock. We are not interested in creating social media fear. We just want to tell the story the way we think it should be told.»

«Will there be furor? Yeah, probably,» he adds. «I mean, there usually is, starting even with casting.» As an example, he points to some of the fan feedback he received for the character of Ellie. Yet Bella Ramsey, who uses they/them pronouns, can now count themself an Emmy-nominated actor in the category of Best Actress in a Drama Series.

Merle Dandridge and Craig Mazin on the set of ‘The Last of Us’

| CREDIT: LIANE HENTSCHER/HBO

«We knew they were the exact right person to cast and they had to go through quite a few months of people being awful on social media until they saw what we saw,» Mazin continues. «That, to me, is the point. We don’t operate to either make people happy on social media or avoid making them upset. We just do what we think is right, and we hope that people come along for the ride and enjoy it.»

Without delving into spoilers, co-showrunner Neil Druckmann, one of the game-makers behind The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II, previously stated that he and the folks at Naughty Dog received death threats from players over specific twists and turns in the games’ story. Mazin and Druckmann now must cast a pivotal character involved in said twists, Abby, and viewers have already begun the process of fan casting that role on social media.

What’s working for the team is the fact that The Last of Us is already a commercial and critical success. The show quickly became one of HBO’s most watched programs. On Wednesday, much of the principal cast — including Ramsey, Pedro PascalAnna TorvMelanie LynskeyMurray BartlettNick Offerman, Lamar Johnson, Keivonn Montreal Woodard, and Storm Reid — woke up to find themselves Emmy nominated. Clearly, they are doing something right.

Mazin says the plan for season 2 is «to not necessarily achieve the same outcome, but follow the same process» as season 1. «It is ultimately the only process I really know and understand as somebody that writes things and directs and produces. So I don’t really have much of a choice, but it is nice to know that at least this first go around, doing it the way I do it worked. I have great partners. We are all very humble with each other. Objections are always carefully considered. Nobody in our group operates out of ego or being defensive. We just try to make things better all the time, and we take care of each other. I think as long as we keep doing that, and we have more incredible source material to work with, we’re gonna continue to adapt the way we do, which is to surprise people that have played the game. But also, I don’t think anybody who has played the game is gonna watch a second season and go, ‘Wait, what is this?'»

«I can’t wait to get back to work,» he says. «But unfortunately I have to wait.»

PHOTO March 02, 2023 Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey HBO The Last of Us Season 1 - Episode 8

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey on ‘The Last of Us’

| CREDIT: LIANE HENTSCHER/HBO

Production on The Last of Us season 2 is currently delayed because of the ongoing writers’ strike — and the highly likely impending actors’ strike. But another thing working in Mazin’s favor, with all the Emmy love for the supporting players, is that he’ll likely have his pick of the litter for season 2 guest stars.

Mazin laughs at the thought. «Well, I think the smartest thing to do is to appreciate outcomes and then forget them, because the only way you’re gonna get to that outcome is by starting from another pure and clean place,» he says. «So it is incredible to see. Of course, this might make it slightly easier to cast people, but we will always do things without that in mind. We just cast the person that we think is right.»

By dPrimeramano

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