Warning: This post contains spoilers for the series premiere The last of us.
When Nico Parker joined the cast The last of us — the HBO adaptation of the 2013 PlayStation video game blockbuster — she knew she was going to live on lost time. The 18-year-old daughter westworld Star Tandywe Newton and director Ol Parker play Sarah, the only child of the show’s central character, Joel (played by Pedro Pascal), who lives in a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by a deadly pandemic that has created a new crop of rampaging zombies.
The oversized series premiere depicts exactly how this outbreak happens, and the lives it claims… including Sarah’s. The teen is murdered during a desperate trip home in the company of her father and uncle Tommy (Gabriel Luna). While racing away from the infected humans, Joel and Sarah encounter a soldier who has been ordered by his superiors to open fire on the fleeing. Tommy dispatches their would-be killer before he can execute them, but it is too late for Sarah – she has already been shot and dies in Joel’s arms.
While those viewers who played the game may have been crucified by her death, newcomers may be caught off guard because Parker has such a broad presence in the first half hour of the premiere. The actress told Yahoo Entertainment that one of the most challenging aspects of the role was not tilting her hand and telegraphing Sarah’s fate.
Watch our interview with Nico Parker on YouTube below
“I didn’t want to treat every moment like it was the most important moment, especially because it’s kind of like the beginning,” Parker explains. “You’re seeing a more regular way of life, and I didn’t want you to feel like, ‘Just wait’ till you see what happens!” I wanted to feel it day in and day out. And then when it came to the emotional and stressful scenes, I wanted it to feel like everything you’re seeing is the first time.”
Fortunately, Parker didn’t have to film those “stressful” scenes — which culminated in her character’s demise — right away. The actress says she spent the first half of her time limited The last of us Set bonding with her on-screen dad. “I absolutely adore him,” she says of Pascal. Very quickly, I was like, ‘This is my best friend! I didn’t feel like either of us was faking anything. He obviously could secretly hate me, but I have no idea!”
Like Bella Ramsey — who was introduced midway through the premiere as cynical teen Ellie — Parker hadn’t played the original video game before his arrival. The last of us he sat. “I’m terrible at anything gaming-related,” she admits. “But I would watch other guys play it, like it was a movie. I would cry constantly over anything Sarah-related. But was it a no-brainer not to… from watching the show otherwise?”
One of Parker’s favorite memories from the early days of filming was a little scene where Joel and Sarah sit down to a normal breakfast. “It was so relaxing,” she remembers. “We were finding a rhythm in shooting that was very interesting.” Naturally, that cadence accelerated as onscreen events spiraled out of control. In the context of the premiere, a mutant race of cordyceps Fungus is overrunning the world and society is rapidly collapsing. Sarah only lives long enough to see the beginning of that downfall, and her death is the first of many scars Joel has accumulated as a (unlucky) plague survivor.
“The most difficult scenes were to be decided at the end of filming,” says Parker, referring to Sarah’s last night alive. “So Pedro and I already had a foundation there [to draw on]and all feelings can be really real, as if [my death] It was already happening.”
Prior to the show’s premiere, it was a toxic item for The last of us Fans criticized showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann — who created the Playstation title and its 2020 sequel — for casting Pascal and Parker as Joel and Sarah, two characters portrayed as white in the video game. “You can’t make everyone happy,” the Chilean-born actor recently told Yahoo Entertainment about these hateful reactions. “The game is very innovative in its inclusiveness. So it’s really a way of honoring the original source material, the way Craig and Neil have gone about telling and telling this story.”
For her part, Parker says she “understands” why this minority of fans are concerned about an adaptation that doesn’t recreate the exact experience of playing the game. “There are people for whom the game is very important,” she notes. “But when it comes from a place where he is just disdainful of any kind of totalitarianism, that’s where I don’t care. I don’t appreciate that opinion, nor do I agree with it.”
“Hopefully they can get through it and enjoy the show,” Parker continues. “But I think inclusivity is very important. If young children watch the show and feel represented through race or hair or something, that’s 10 times more important than someone not liking it because they don’t like seeing different people on their screens.”
It’s worth noting that while Sarah may be dead in Joel’s present, there’s no reason she can’t reappear in flashback sequences to happier times. And being buddies with a star The Mandalorian It could be a portal to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far, far away – a place her mother previously visited in 2018’s big screen star Wars story, single. “I wasn’t invited into this universe,” Parker says with a laugh. “I am waiting for my call.” Someone already handed her a lightsaber.
The last of us It airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.