Katniss from The Hunger Games inspired Bella Ramsey to go into acting

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 09: Bella Ramsey attends the Los Angeles premiere of HBO's "The Last of Us" at Regency Village Theatre on January 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 09: Bella Ramsey attends the Los Angeles premiere of HBO's "The Last of Us" at Regency Village Theatre on January 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage) /

With her turn as Ellie on The Last of Us, Bella Ramsey has become a bonafide TV star, all at the age of 19. It wasn’t too long ago that was inspired to get into acting, apparently by watching the 2012 movie The Hunger Games. “I just remember watching Jennifer Lawrence [and] being like, ‘I wanna do that,'” she told L’Officiel.

She followed that passion all the way to the zombie apocalypse, where she formed a close bond with costar Pedro Pascal, who plays Ellie’s reluctant father figure Joel. “I adore him. He’s just a very safe person,” Ramsey said. “I felt instantly safe with him and was so relieved that we got along. I was so worried. I put so much pressure on our relationship because I knew that we had the rest of the year together, and then press, and then more seasons. The minute that I actually let go of that pressure, we just bonded. He’s the best. He’s so kind and generous and we had a lot of fun. We were like two little kids messing about.”

The relationship between Joel and Ellie is at the center of The Last of Us, so if Ramsey and Pascal didn’t get along, it could have been a problem. But they had a bonding ritual. “Music was what we bonded over,” Ramsey said. “Before we were confident with each other—when we were still shy—we would play each other songs. That was our way of communicating.”

Bella Ramsey: “Gay people exist, so why shouldn’t they exist int he apocalypse?”

It all paid off. The first season of The Last of Us was a hit both critically and commercially, breaking new ground in a genre a lot of people thought had been warmed over a few too many times. For instance, two episodes focused on gay love stories — first between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) and then between Ellie and Riley (Storm Reid) — with a tenderness you don’t often see in sci-fi, or in general.

“I definitely connected with it and it was really exciting to me,” Ramsay said about those elements. “I remember the character description that came through in the initial email about Ellie. Part of what [showrunner Craig Mazin] wrote in her description was that ‘she’s gay and she doesn’t care,’ or I think the actual words were ‘doesn’t give a fuck what you think.’ I just loved that from the get-go. It was really nice to have two really queer episodes. Like, gay people exist, so why shouldn’t they exist in the apocalypse? I really liked that it didn’t feel tacked on. It was so integral to this story, and so organically done, that it didn’t feel like, Oh, we’re just putting in these queer people for representation. This is the story, and it’s just a story of two people loving each other, and it was really beautiful.”

Ellie is “mad” at Joel over his choice on The Last of Us

All of this led to the final episode of the first season, where the separatist group the Fireflies discovered that they could use Ellie’s immunity to the zombie virus that had devastated the world to synthesize a cure. The only catch: she would die during the procedure. Joel, who by this point had come to think of Ellie as a daughter, wasn’t willing to let this happen, and massacred the Firelies rather than let them kill Ellie, even if that meant the zombie plague would continue to spread.

Ellie was unconscious for all of this, so she doesn’t know of the choice that Joel made…but I think we all know she’s going to find out. “Me as Bella, I’m not mad about it or mad at him, but Ellie is mad obviously because [being the cure] was her purpose. That’s what she was,” Ramsey said. “She felt like she actually mattered and, ironically, Joel took away that purpose from her because she mattered so much to him.”

That said, Ramsay thinks that if their positions were reversed, Ellie would have chosen to save Joel, “which would have been even more stupid because Joel’s pretty old.” The heart wants what it wants.

All of this will come home to roost in season 2, which will adapt Naughty Dog’s video game The Last of Us Part II. “I’m very open to anything,” Ramsey said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how Craig and [co-showrunner Neil Druckmann] adapt the story of the second game into another season. What I’m actually looking forward to is fighting more, but that’s just for me, not really for Ellie.”

Hopefully, we’ll be watching season 2 on HBO and Max sometime in 2024.

Next. The Last Kingdom costume designer tells us about Seven Kings Must Die. dark

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