HBO’s television adaptation of Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” video game franchise will be directed in part by “Chernobyl” director Johan Renck.
Renck signed on to direct the pilot episode and will be an executive producer on the show, he told website DiscussingFilm. HBO confirmed Renck’s role in the series Monday morning.
“It’s an ongoing TV series,” Renck said, “so that’s not something that I will be able to take on to that extent, but I’m part of that series and I will be directing at least the pilot. Then we’ll see how it goes on further.”
Renck will direct the pilot alongside lead writer Craig Mazin, who also wrote on “Chernobyl.” “The Last of Us” television series was announced in early March and will be made in concert with the PlayStation game’s original creator, Neil Druckmann.
“The Last of Us” will be led by “Chernobyl” writer Craig Mazin and Druckmann. Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions will co-produce, and this series is the first from PlayStation Productions.
“Both Craig and I, we are working with each other again and we will work with each other on other things because we like each other,” Renck told DiscussingFilm.
Adapting the deep lore of “The Last of Us” from the PS4 to TV is a challenge Renck said he is working with the creators to solve. The first game takes place in a fictional universe two decades after the fall of modern civilization and in the midst of a literal zombie apocalypse — while the upcoming “Last of Us Part II” title from Naughty Dog debuts June 19.
In the first game, a survivor of the collapse named Joel is hired to sneak 14-year-old Ellie out of a quarantine zone and across the country to find remaining survivors. The sequel will follow adult Ellie in her journeys across the still-infected landscape in search of answers.
“We’re having weekly calls, Craig and I and also Neil who created the game, about various approaches and how to deal with the fact that a video game character is way further than a character from a book… but also it’s more different to deal with than a real person,” Renck said.
HBO said the series will mainly focus on the content in the original “Last of Us” game, with potential added content from the sequel. At the time of the series announcement, Sony Pictures Television Studios co-president Chris Parnell said, “this is a true thrill for us at Sony Pictures Television. ‘The Last of Us’ is a brilliant achievement in storytelling and character development, and we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with this team to adapt it.”