Before Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey graced our screens, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson originated the roles of Ellie and Joel. They delivered heart-wrenching lines of dialogue, donned mo-cap suits to embody the action and angst, and brought their profound father-daughter bond to life. These characters are who they are in the HBO series, because of the groundwork that they laid — which is why it’s touching to know that the series made room for them to be involved, outside of their original roles.
Ahead of the finale, /Film’s Ben Pearson attended a virtual press event with series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, where they commented on Johnson’s brief yet seismic role in the episode. “[Ashley Johnson’s scene] is one of the most fulfilling moments of the production and the show,” Mazin said. “Because I’m a fan of the game and I’m a fan of Ashley’s.”
Baker made his appearance in the penultimate episode, as a character who couldn’t possibly be further from Joel. For one, he’s a cannibal, and the right-hand man of the show’s vile antagonist, David. Also, the closest he comes to forging a connection with Ellie is when she plunges a meat cleaver into his neck. It’s a killer role and Baker absolutely shines as a villain, but it’s wonderful that they didn’t take the same approach to Johnson’s cameo. Instead, Mazin and Druckman found a way to continue her legacy as Ellie, by having her literally give birth to the character she originated.