Could Mahershala Ali play Joel in HBO’s upcoming TV series adaptation of the hit video game The Last of Us? That could very well be the case according to a new report from The Illuminerdi. Rumor has it that the Oscar-winning actor has been offered the lead role of Joel, the hardened survivor who serves as the playable character in the video game. Per the report, Ali has yet to sign on. HBO has not yet officially commented on the rumors.
Originally released in 2013, The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog for the Sony PlayStation 3 console. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic United States years after a zombie-like virus has ravaged the world. Players take control of Joel, a smuggler hired to escort a teenage girl named Ellie across the country for reasons that are made clear as the story progresses. In addition to flesh-hungry creatures, Joel and Ellie must also battle murderous raiders to survive.
Last year, it was announced that a television adaptation of The Last of Us was in the works at HBO. Alongside game writer Neil Druckmann, Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin was tapped to help write and executive produce the series. Joining the project as executive producers are Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog president Evan Wells, PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan, and director Johan Renck. Kantemir Balagov is also set to direct the pilot episode.
The TV was given the green light months ago, but no casting decisions have yet been officially announced by HBO. Fans have since been speculating over the different possibilities as to who could play Joel as well as Ellie. Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was one popular name that came up a lot as a good candidate for Joel, though there’s no indication he was ever in consideration for the part. Meanwhile, the digital artist BossLogic cast Chris Evans as Joel in a piece of fan art with Mckenna Grace as Ellie.
An accomplished actor, Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his roles in both Moonlight and Green Book. On the small screen, he has also been nominated at the Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on the shows House of Cards, True Detective, and Ramy. He is also remembered for his recurring roles on other series like The 4400, Luke Cage, and Race for the White House.
Ali may not end up playing Joel in The Last of Us, but the actor does have another major role already lined up. He’ll be making his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new Blade movie, taking over the role played by Wesley Snipes in the previous movie trilogy. Called Blade, the Vampire Slayer, the new movie will be written by Watchmen writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour. A release date hasn’t yet been set for the movie.
In the meantime, Ali’s next role can be seen next month in Invincible, Amazon’s animated superhero drama series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book of the same name. Ali will play the superhero Titan as part of an ensemble cast that also includes Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Mark Hamill, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Zazie Beetz, Jon Hamm, and Clancy Brown. Invincible will be released on Amazon Prime Video on March 26, 2021. This information comes to us from The Illuminerdi.