How The Last of Us' Opening Was Improved by Reshoots

Gabriel Luna as Tommy in The Last of Us.
Gabriel Luna as Tommy in The Last of Us.

The word “reshoots” means different things to different people. Some assume they’re a sign of a troubled production, one that needs to fix its own mistakes. Others see them as a blessing, a rare chance to go back and make something better with added perspective. Depending on the situation both viewpoints can be true, but on HBO’s The Last of Us, reshoots fall squarely in that second category. They gave the show even more emotion than the game it’s based on.

Speaking to the PlayStation Blog, Last of Us showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann revealed that several scenes in the premiere episode’s first section, which focuses on Joel and his family on the day the virus begins to spread, were reshot to add more of a specific character. It’s a decision that will pay off later for the audience.

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“That breakfast scene [in the premiere] is one of those scenes that initially when we shot it, Tommy wasn’t there, and we had a budget to reshoot some of the stuff in the pilot, and that’s one of those ideas that we came up with,” Druckmann told the site. “We got him into that breakfast scene, and that phone call where Joel has to bail him out of jail, that was part of the reshoot as well.”

With Tommy being Joel’s main motivation to leave the Quarantine Zone with Ellie, and who’ll play a larger role moving ahead, introducing him sooner and giving him more to do than he does in the original video game version felt like one of those instances where the team could give the game a little boost.

“You see pretty quickly that Tommy’s more than capable of taking care of himself, in fact, it’s Tommy who saves Joel’s life [in the premiere],” Mazin said. “And that interesting concept of who needs saving and who’s going to do the saving is a theme that we will bring up over and over and over.”

Head over to the PlayStation Blog to read more from not just Mazin and Druckmann but Gabriel Luna, who plays Tommy, and Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel. Game developers from Naughty Dog also explain big changes and decisions made in the opening sequence of the game, which then became the first act of the show.

The first episode of The Last of Us is now streaming.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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