The Last of Us is off to a rollicking good start on HBO, with both critics and audiences lavishing the show with praise. But there are always people who aren’t going to be pleased, and in the age of social media, they can make their opinions known more easily than they could in the past.
That’s how star Bella Ramsey came across the backlash to her casting as Ellie, one of the main characters. “It’s the first time I’ve ever had a negative reaction to something,” she said. “There would be times I’d find it funny. Then I’d get to the end of a 10-minute scrolling session, put my phone down and realize: Maybe that was a bad idea.”
Speaking to Elle, Ramsey said she got a little too deep into the criticism, at times even believing it herself. “Believe me, I had my doubts, too,” she said. “It took a long time, actually, for me to accept that I was Ellie, and that I could be her and that I was the right fit. It took me a good while, even after we finished filming.”
When The Last of Us showrunner reads mean comments about Bella Ramsey, he wants to find the trolls “and kill them with my hands”
One of the things fans critiqued Ramsey for is not looking identical to Ellie as she appeared in the original The Last of Us video game, which…yeah, Ramsey is a human person and not a 3D model, I guess.
That always seemed like such a weird criticism to me. Like, you’re casting an actor for a role; what is your main priority: to find someone who looks exactly like the person from the original thing, or to find someone who can play the part well? I mean, Ellie is a teenage girl with brown hair and Ramsey is a teenage girl with brown hair. Surely it’s close enough.
Anyway, Ramsey has been getting a ton of praise for her work, so it seems like the controversy is dying down. That more or less tracks with what showrunner Craig Mazin predicted would happen:
"In this medium, there’s this new kid and they’re like, ‘Well, we didn’t want the new kid. We didn’t ask for the new kid. I don’t like this new kid. She doesn’t look like the old kid.’ Then what’s going to happen, if they watch, is they’re going to be like, ‘Well, the new kid’s fine. She’s not as good as the old kid, but the new kid’s okay.’ Then they’re going to be like, ‘I kind of love this new kid.’ Then eventually they will arrive at, ‘If anybody hurts this new kid, I’ll kill them.’"
According to Ramsey and Mazin, the two of them have grown quite close on set. “I feel like we both need each other as much as the other one does,” Ramsey said. “Our brains are very similar. So it was cool to see, to have that and to really understand my own brain by being able to understand other people’s.”
Mazin goes even further. “I feel about [Ramsey] the way Joel feels about Ellie, which is to say, when I read people saying things that I consider to be cruel, stupid, I want to find them and kill them with my hands,” he said.
A little intense but it’s good they have each other’s back. New episodes of The Last of Us air Sundays on HBO.