The Last Of Us was a great blockbuster in part due to its myriad emotional, sad, and downright terrible sequences – but one stands out above the others, according to actor Gabriel Luna.
In the critically praised live-action adaptation of the video game, Gabriel plays Tommy, the brother of main character Pedro Pascal and Sarah’s uncle, whose death in episode one ultimately sets the rest of the tale in motion for viewers.
When asked whether there was a scene in TLOU that he found tough to watch, Gabriel pointed to the first episode, adding filming Sarah’s death was ‘terrible for all of us.’
Gabriel was’very aware of’ the scenario after having played the games, and recalls checking at the production schedule and seeing it there – ‘I knew what was going to happen.’
Delving into the scene, Gabe explains: ‘There’s very limited dialogue but it’s the inciting event in which everything else follows. Sure, the world was ending around us but that particular moment – my brother’s world extinguishing in that moment – is really what it’s about, what drives the whole thing.’
He heaps praise on actress Nico Parker, calling her an ‘absolute pleasure working with, an incredible actor’ who was ‘so committed and so well prepared.’
‘She made us love Sarah, and we needed to, as an audience, to love her and understand Joel’s devastation,’ Gabe says.
‘So that was a big scene. With limited dialogue but something about the presence there. And the fact I witness her passing – and [Joel] is looking at me and pleading and begging for my help. And in that moment he looks up as his daughter expires. He doesn’t even see her pass, I see it. He has to read it on my face. So there was a lot packed into that.’
Fans are now anticipating season two of the survival thriller, with those who have played the games especially intrigued – or scared – about what the new season will bring.
Gabriel himself is well-prepared, having been consciously preparing for the storyline in season two even as filming began on season one, as ‘that whole journey is obviously linked and reliant on everything that has come before it.’
He ‘thinks, hopes’ that the show will continue to remain faithful and accurate to the games – and notes The Last Of Us Part II is ‘terribly tragic in many ways.’
‘And I love that,’ he says eagerly, admitting he ‘loved’ making the entire world… break their hearts each and every week’ in season one.
‘We just look forward to chipping away at all of our poor hearts’ in the next season, ‘but I promise we’ll do our best to mend them as much as we can.’
He smiles when asked whether he’s just wanting to make a lot of people weep.
‘Exactly. That’s the quote, that’s the headline: Gabriel Luna wants everyone to cry.’
He adds that the next instalment is ‘just going to be fantastic.’
Fans will likely have a bit longer than expected to wait for new episodes, thanks to the strikes ongoing in Hollywood (our chat with Gabriel comes days before the Sag-Aftra actors’ strikes are called).
And while he ‘doesn’t know anything and if I could I couldn’t tell you,’ he has high hopes for the next chapter.
‘I think it’s important for us to operate in the same way that we have [already],’ he says. ‘We have to love it first, the way we did in that first season. And if we do that, and take great care, and commit to attention to detail in the way that we did, then one can only hope we will be able to maintain that quality.
‘We set a very high bar but we all are excited to clear it and raise it and continue to raise it.’
Fans enjoyed watching TLOU, it seems, almost as much as Gabrel enjoyed filming it. He happily recalls exploring the Canadian wilderness, going fly-fishing, playing music with Bella Ramsey on quiet moments between scenes, and ‘going out for a beverage after work with Pedro,’ who he describes as ‘a wonderful gu, beautiful soul, really fun, really playful.’
The beers were more for fun than a genuine desire to decompress after filming some really difficult moments, the most of which went to Bella and Pedro.
‘His endurance and Bella’s endurance should be applauded, along with our entire crew. It was daunting. The elements, the subject matter, shooting for a full calendar year. That was something pretty extraordinary. Rarely do you see projects of that scale – that’s like some Lord of the Rings-type stuff.’
Having worked so hard, it was incredible to see the reaction from critics and fans as the show aired, with the massive reception there ‘right from the get-go.’
‘It was really just exciting to see the reactions and everyone scolding us for making them love and cry and be fearful. They had the full range, spectrum of emotions – and we got to hand it to them on a platter.’
That said, videogame adaption are notoriously difficult to get right in live action, but Gabriel wasn’t too worried – because ‘it was obvious and evident’ that a ‘great story’ was ‘right there on the page.’
‘If we just accomplished what was on the page we would be alright because there’s a great story there in black and white,.’
Gabriel is used to feeling the burden of taking on a job with a pre-existing following, having gone from Ghost Rider to Marvel to Terminator to The Last Of Us, but he approaches it with a positive attitude.
‘The pressure is only applied to those who have expectations placed on them. You’re lucky, you should be honoured and privileged to have to operate under pressure.’
The Last of Us: The Complete First Season is available to purchase on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.