Why Troy Baker Didn’t Play Joel or David in The Last of Us

HBO The Last of Us Episode 8 Spoilers – When we are in need. Read our episode review here.

Troy Baker loves The Last of Us, and being such an essential part of the franchise, he couldn’t resist committing to HBO’s hit live-action adaptation. “I’d be happy to just click,” Baker tells IGN in a post-episode interview.

Well, Baker is not a Clicker in the HBO series The Last of Us, he plays James, a member of David’s survivors in the penultimate episode of the first season of The Last of Us. “Neil and Craig came to me and said, ‘We’ve got a part for you. And Neil said, “It’s James,” Baker says of how he first became involved with the HBO series.

“And I thought, ‘Oh man… who is James?’ For example, “Oh yeah, dude, the guy in the hat.”

Baker is one of the hardest-working actors in video games, and despite playing characters like the Joker and Revolver Ocelot, no role is more associated with Baker than his role as Joel in the video game The Last of Us. In two video games and the stage production special One Night Live, Baker portrayed Joel, a post-apocalyptic survivor. But he wasn’t competing for a role on an HBO series, he wanted to learn from someone new.

“What I wished most was that whoever was going to play Joel showed me something new about the role,” Baker tells IGN. “Was there anything I missed? Was there something I missed? Was there something I didn’t know about?”

Fortunately for Baker, HBO has opted for what it considers the perfect choice. “As soon as I found out they had cast Pedro, I thought, ‘Well, now we’re bulletproof.’ Because of course his pedigree as an actor is undeniable, but it’s also the fact that he embraced the character with such loving arms. And I couldn’t imagine more careful hands for this character.”

Baker accepts the changes that The Last of Us HBO series makes, from the cast to the plot, as it expands the world of video games, which he clearly enjoys. “We’re limited because we’re telling Joel’s story from Joel’s perspective, or we’re telling Ellie’s story from Ellie’s perspective,” notes Baker. “And what the show allows us to do is to be able to take a break from these characters and spend time with a lot of other characters that we left unsaid in the game.”

One of those characters is James Bakera, who isn’t just a “buddy” but a cautious survivor who might not be okay with what he’s doing. There are moments throughout the episode where James seems to be clearly at odds with David, whether it’s the way they survive (spoilers: cannibalism) or the way David seems to be more obsessed with capturing Ellie than he is with David. revenge for the murder of one of their own.

Baker says this is similar to another pair of characters recently introduced to The Last of Us universe, Perry and Kathleen from the Kansas City Quarantine Zone. “It evokes the relationship that Perry, played by Jeffrey Pierce, has with Kathleen, where there’s a leader who has a right hand that kind of flatteringly or sympathetically helps them make decisions,” says Baker.

“James recognizes the evil in David, but it’s better to be on the devil’s right side than on the wrong side. Therefore, he plays his position very carefully, but also tries to achieve his goal, which is: “Don’t let that girl in.” And he uses pragmatism as his method. She’s just another mouth to feed.”

It was announced early on that Baker and his video game Ashley Johnson, who voices Ellie in the games, would be part of the franchise, starting speculation about the roles they would get. One early suggestion was for Baker to play David, but Baker said the decision would be too obvious.

“There have been many rumors and speculations that I will play David. I thought, “That would just be too kitschy.” It would be too nosey. Moreover, the decision to cast Scott Shepard is another example of what Baker loves about the show. It’s different.

“What I love is the departure from what Nolan did in the game playing David, is that again, it’s a different representation of the character that people might be familiar with.”

Ultimately, Baker emphasizes that the series and the video game are two sides of the same coin, and that both mediums help each other tell this story that has garnered so many fans.

“I told people it’s not ‘either/or’, either play the game or watch the show. It is “yes and”. I’m excited that when people finish the series, they’ll either come back and play the game again, or they’ll come back and play it for the first time and have this conversation.

Matt TM Kim is a senior editor at IGN. You can reach him @lawoftd.

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