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‘Making of The Last of Us’: Honoring a Masterpiece

‘Making of The Last of Us’ showcases the work of the phenomenal cast and crew of HBO’s new hit series.

The Making of The Last of Us documentary is now streaming on HBO Max and NowTV. It is a love letter to the incredible cast, crew, and already existing source material—including exclusive interviews and a journey behind-the-scenes of the hit series.

This is The Last of Us fix we all need after its finale, and it leaves us longing for season two even more than we already have been. Let’s break down this thrilling all-access documentary!

Miracle workers: The Last of Us crew

Craig Mazin, Merle Dandridge and Pedro Pascal behind the scenes of The Last of Us. Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO | Making of The Last of Us | Agents of Fandom
Craig Mazin, Merle Dandridge, and Pedro Pascal behind the scenes of The Last of Us. Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO.

Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann

The Making of The Last of Us documentary further emphasises the importance of Neil Druckmann‘s involvement in the production of the HBO adaptation. As the creator of the video game, Neil’s input is obviously essential for the series. His passion and admiration of the universe he created translates beautifully, and with this new footage, viewers can fully understand Neil’s excitement and determination for adapting his video game.

It is crystal clear that the entire supporting cast and crew deeply appreciate and admire Druckmann throughout the entire process. Every clip of him directing both the video game and the show are beautiful to watch.

Craig Mazin‘s pride over The Last of Us is transparent the whole way through; the documentary includes some delightful clips of Mazin becoming emotional whilst wrapping the show. He expresses his love for the entire cast and crew and states his initial intention was “to create the best TV show ever.” Many of us might end up agreeing that he succeeded when all is said and done.

Visual and practical effects crews

The Making of The Last of Us documentary also includes interviews with contributors to visual and practical effects.

Barrie Gower is the prosthetic designer in charge of creating the cordyceps and fungal face pieces we see on the infected. His explanations surrounding the choices for these practical pieces are intriguing. Gower dives deep into his thought process, illuminating every decision, both big and small.

He explains some of the science behind fungal infections and how they can affect animal brains, then compares it to how the infection might appear when affecting a human. This segment gives viewers a huge appreciation for the work put into the show.

Making of The Last of Us also explores Paul Spateri‘s efforts in the journey of an infected’s appearance throughout the various stages of infection. Furthermore, we see VFX supervisor Alex Wang working with an actor portraying a Stalker on their movement in the role. Infected are famous for their jittery, rigid movements, so consolidating their motion is a huge part of portraying the creatures.

VFX producer Sean Nowlan says in Making of The Last of Us that, “every shot we shoot has to be touched in some way by visual effects.” The documentary then goes on to show some before-and-afters of multiple scenes from the series, displaying how they originally looked when untouched versus the final product. The visual effects work in The Last of Us is just phenomenal. I hope the crew get the recognition they deserve during next year’s award season.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the Making of The Last of Us documentary. | Agents of Fandom
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the Making of The Last of Us documentary. Image credit: HBO.

Mr. and Mrs. Clicker

Misty Lee and Phillipp Kovats also appear in Making of The Last of Us, where they record sound effects for Clickers. Clickers are recognisable by their piercing screeches, a haunting sound both in the game and show. Misty Lee originated the sound used in the show and recorded the audio used for female Clickers; Kovats followed in her footsteps, doing the same for male Clickers. Craig Mazin calls them “Mr. and Mrs. Clicker.”

Gustavo Santaolalla: Composer for The Last of Us

Gustavo Santaolalla composed the iconic score for the video game and continues his incredible work on the adaptation. The documentary shows Santaolalla in the studio with Neil Druckmann creating music for various scenes in the series. Druckmann praises Gustavo’s dedication to minimalism and storytelling in his work, whilst Gustavo explains his aim was “…to translate the language from the game to the series and find something that flows.

Additionally, he praises Druckmann and Mazin’s work on the show, saying “there is a connection between the game and what the series is.” Fans were extremely pleased when it was revealed Gustavo would return to compose the show’s score, as his work on the video game is impressive.

Location managers

The Last of Us documentary also features interviews with John Paino, Matt Palmer, and Jason Nolan, who were set designers for various episodes of the show. They explain their efforts in replicating locations from the video game around Canada, where the show is filmed. Paul Healey was also largely involved in this process as a set decorator. Their combined work on the sets produces incredibly accurate locations for filming and does the source material huge justice. It is fascinating to get an insight into their processes and ideas in this documentary.

Merle Dandridge, Craig Mazin and Pedro's stunt double behind the scenes of The Last of Us. Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO | Making of The Last of Us | Agents of Fandom
Merle Dandridge, Craig Mazin, and Pedro’s stunt double behind the scenes of The Last of Us. Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO.

The cast of HBO’s The Last of Us

Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker

Seeing Ashley and Troy return in the series carries an incredible feeling. The pair made The Last of Us what it is today with their portrayals of Joel and Ellie in the video game. The story would be nothing without them. Ashley and Troy both give short interviews in Making of The Last of Us in which they endlessly praise the crew and the rest of the cast’s work on the show. Ashley gushes over Bella Ramsey‘s portrayal of Ellie, which is beyond amazing to hear. “She is Ellie,” she says.

Bella Ramsey

It is evident that Bella had the time of their life on set. They always talk about their friendship with Pedro Pascal and Craig Mazin, going as far as to describe them as, “[her] two surrogate fathers.

Seeing Bella excel in this role is a delight to watch, and I can only imagine their upcoming triumph in season two. Ellie is such an important character to so many people, and Bella’s portrayal is beyond anything fans could have ever imagined.

Pedro Pascal

Like Bella, Pedro speaks about how much fun he had on set in The Last of Us documentary. He describes it as “the best time of my life.” It is impossible to put into words how phenomenal his portrayal of Joel really is. Pedro has made it clear how much he understands and cares for these characters, and his enthusiasm adds to the experience.

Pedro and Bella fully deserve the praise they are receiving, and we can only hope they are rightfully recognised during awards season.

Supporting cast

Anna Torv (Tess), Murray Bartlett (Frank), and Merle Dandridge (Marlene) all also feature in the Making of The Last of Us documentary. Similar to prior guests, they endlessly praise the cast and crew’s dedication and hard work towards making the show a success. They gush over set design and practical effects and rightfully sing Mazin and Druckmann’s praises.

Making of The Last of Us is a great watch

The only criticism one might have following the Making of The Last of Us documentary is that we could easily indulge in more hours of behind-the-scenes content from the show. Now that the series has concluded, though, this amazing look at the production is just what we need to fill the hole The Last of Us has left us with. What on earth will we do until we get to season two?

To talk more about the show, the Fandom Academy Podcast contains our in-depth thoughts on each episode of The Last of Us, alongside our predictions for the upcoming seasons. Of course, you can always hit me up on Twitter to chat more.

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