How The Mandalorian stood in the way of Pedro Pascal being cast in The Last of Us

Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian.Disney/Lucasfilm

Pedro Pascal is playing Joel in the TV version of The Last of Us, which premieres later this month. But similarities with The Mandalorian meant he very nearly didn’t land the role.

Pedro Pascal rose to fame playing Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, and Javier Pena in Narcos.

Since then he’s played a prominent part in the Star Wars universe, as the titular bounty hunter in two seasons of The Mandalorian, with a third to follow this year.

But thanks to similarities between the plot of the Disney+ show, and the storyline of the game on which The Last of Us is based, HBO very nearly ruled Pascal out of the casting process for their adaptation.

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Similarities between The Mandalorian and The Last of Us

In The Mandalorian, Pascal takes a ward under his wing, travels through dangerous territories, and battles to protect the youngster. In The Last of Us, he’d be doing much the same thing.

Showrunner Craig Mazin told The Hollywood Reporter that he was initially worried about the overlap. “We talked about the fact that he was in The Mandalorian. And you can do the math like: Mandalorian = Joel; Baby Yoda = … but then you realize, actually, no. It’s not the same.

“The Mandalorian is interacting with a mute, adorable creature – and I love that show. But interacting with a teenager is complicated. Also, the fact they have him covered in a helmet is a huge factor.”

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In the same article, Pascal points out that said storyline is frequently used in cinema and on TV, sating: “As I [got familiar with the game], I noticed there are so many things I’ve seen that visually or thematically reference The Last of Us. Like Logan.

“And yes, the trope has been used in so many different ways – you can go back to Lone Wolf and Cub, you can go to Paper Moon. But as far as Madalorian and The Last of Us existing in close proximity, for me, it’s the best double-dipping I could possibly imagine.”

How playing Joel will affect The Mandalorian

Pascal needed permission from Disney to work on the HBO show, which he tells THR was very generously given.

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Pascal then hinted that his implied absence will have some impact on Season 3 of The Mandalorian, saying “Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are creatively not limiting themselves to the way things are normally done. We’ve improvised making myself available for whatever they need. I hesitate revealing anything because I don’t want any plot surprises to be spoiled.”

The Last of Us debuts on January 15, while season 3 of The Mandalorian will drop on March 1.