THE LAST OF US Season 2 Casts Owen, Mel, Nora, and Manny

HBO has confirmed they have cast four major roles a few weeks into filming The Last of Us season 2.
the last of us

Filming is underway on The Last of Us Season 2 at the moment. Cameras started to roll in Vancouver on Feb. 12, just a few weeks after HBO announced the actors playing three of the three main characters of season 2. The list of directors was also revealed. Now, they’re telling us a bit more about the new cast.

The network announced on Friday that Danny Ramirez will be playing Manny, Ariela Barer will star as Mel, Tati Gabrielle will play Nora, and Spencer Lord will play the live-action Owen. The four are companions and close friends to Abby (played by Kaitlyn Dever), one of the two main characters of season 2, along with Ellie.

RELATED: THE LAST OF US Season 2 Casts Jesse and Dina

Owen is the most important character of all four to the story of the second game. He’s a valuable soldier who wants to believe there’s a better tomorrow for mankind. In one of his best scenes, he sums up the emotional core of the story of The Last of Us in a beautiful line: “We’re allowed to be happy.” Lord will be playing the part, after starring in the CW’s Riverdale.

Barer played a major role in last year’s excellent film How to Blow Up a Pipeline. Her character, Mel, is a military medic who is still haunted by some demons from the past and who in the game is pregnant with Owen’s child at the beginning of the story. Gabrielle may be most recognized from Netflix’s You. She’ll be playing Ramirez might ring a bell to audiences as one of the pilots in Top Gun: Maverick. Manny, his character, is as loyal to his friends as it gets and is always trying to think positively despite old scars.

The Last of Us Part 2

Finally, it was also reported last month that Catherine O’Hara would be joining season 2, though details on her character have not transpired.

The Last of Us Season 2 Casting News Timing

Season 2 of the hit show will be adapting The Last of Us Part II, or at least part of it — showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have repeatedly said that the story of the video game sequel is too large for a single season of TV, so they will be splitting into at least two. But further details on the adaptation are scarce for now.

Despite that, we expect the new season to closely adapt the events of the game, in similar fashion to how the story of the first game was faithfully adapted during the first season, even if writer Craig Mazin took a few creative swings along the way — which, if anything, enriched the plot.

The Last of Us Part 2

The structure and story specifics of season 2 are a lot more complex, though. The video game sequel was surrounded by a cloud of secrecy back when it came out in mid-2020, and we’ll not be sharing spoilers in this story. If you’re not familiar with the game, you should know as little as possible going in.

However, there are some clues that we can gather from the timing of this announcement. Mel, Owen, Nora, and Danny, much like Abby, play a minor role at the beginning of the second game, but they are revisited in the second half, where they have larger parts. The fact that they are announcing this now hints a couple of things: 1) the scene(s) in which they appear are either being filmed, or about to be (since the announcement was made on a Friday, they could start on Monday), and more importantly, 2) the structure of the story will likely be followed closely in the adaptation. Or will it?

These characters are part of the prologue, the initial incident that sets off the main plot of The Last of Us Part II, and in which Joel is featured heavily (unlike the rest of the game, where he appears less frequently). It’d been speculated that given Pedro Pascal’s presence, the show would rewrite the prologue to give Joel a larger role, and even further explore the four-year gap between seasons.

The Last of Us Part 2

That seems to not be the case. Reading between the lines, it seems like they’ve been shooting these past three weeks the Jackson-centric scenes with Joel, Ellie, Dina, and Jesse. They’re now going to finish the prologue with the introduction of Abby and her crew, I’m guessing.

Finally, taking a look at Pedro Pascal’s schedule, he should be freed up by the beginning of April, when Ari Aster’s Eddington will start filming. That gives the production a week or so to finish up work on the prologue and dedicate the rest of March to film the rest of Pedro’s footage from season 2. (Note here: Pascal has only been rumored to have joined Eddington for now, and there’s some speculation that Austin Butler may have been in talks for the same part recently, hinting that maybe Pascal won’t be joining. He also has Celine Song’s Materialists going up in May.)

If I Were HBO…

Let’s put on the marketing hat for a second. Forget even about the story, which I have a lot of faith in Craig Mazin to do right by. I’ve long been saying that I’d like for the first thing to be filmed on the set of The Last of Us season 2 to be a live-action recreation of the teaser trailer for the video game, first shown at PlayStation Experience 2016.

The trailer, which I adamantly loved (and which you can see below), isn’t story-based, yet it fully captures the madness of the second game. It features Ellie playing the guitar and Joel coming in to ask: “Are you really gonna go through with this?” “I’m going to kill every single last one of them,” Ellie replies.

RELATED: THE LAST OF US Season 2 Announces Directing Lineup

There’s still time to shoot that this month. If I were HBO, I’d put that out this Comic-Con by the latest. Season 2 doesn’t have a release date yet, but we know it won’t be premiering in January 2025 (The White Lotus season 3 is taking that spot), the month in which season 1 premiered. It’s shaping up to be a spring release on HBO, like Game of Thrones used to be back in the day, or like The Sympathizer is this year.

About The Last of Us

The Last of Us Key Art

Release Date: Jan. 15, 2023 (Season 1); 2025 (Season 2)
Created by: Craig Mazin and Neill Druckman
Executive producers: Craig Mazin, Neill Druckman, Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan, and Rose Lam
Production: Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Production, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and Naughty Dog
Distribution: HBO, Max
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Kaitlyn Dever, Young Mazino, Isabela Merced, Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Murray Barlett, Nick Offerman, Melanie Lynskey, Storm Reid, Merle Dandridge, Jeffrey Pierce, Lamar Johnson, Keivonn Woodard, Graham Greene, Elaine Miles, Ashley Johnson, and Troy Baker

Synopsis (Season 1): The Last of Us takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal and heartbreaking journey as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

What do you think about the new actors coming in for Season 2 of The Last of Us? Do you agree with my guesses about what it means for season 2 and its adaptation details? What is the character you’re most excited to see in season 2? And what would be your first marketing item for the new season? Let me know your thoughts on our Twitter or our Discord server.

SOURCE: HBO/Max, Deadline

KEEP READING: The Last of Us Part 2: How Naughty Dog Created One of the Best Stories Ever Told