The Last of Us: Who does Ashley Johnson play in the HBO show?

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Ashley Johnson

Who does Ashley Johnson play in The Last of Us? The long-awaited HBO adaptation has finished Season 1, but who does the original Ellie portray in the TV show?

The Last of Us, one of the most acclaimed titles of the 2010s and a generation-defining game, has been given the prestige, big-budget television treatment on HBO. The original game follows Joel and Ellie on a life-or-death, cross-country trip across an America ravaged by a brutal virus.

Developed by the game’s creator and Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann, alongside Chernobyl maestro Craig Mazin, it’s been one of the most anticipated TV events of 2023, bringing the “best video game story ever told” to the screen.

The original game features voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson as the main duo – but who does Johnson play in the show?

Who does Ashley Johnson play in the Last of Us?

Ashley Johnson plays Ellie’s mother, Anna Williams, in The Last of Us HBO show.

Yes, she does appear in the show, as does Troy Baker, although they’re not the roles that they initially played in the game.

Johnson plays the mother of main character Ellie, which is a slight departure from the game. See, in the game franchise, Ellie’s mother is never shown, she is only talked about, and we read a letter from her at the end of the first game.

However, she appears in full in Episode 9, as we see Anna in the midst of giving birth while also being attacked by an infected.

We won’t spoil exactly what happens, but just know that it can potentially tie into why Ellie is immune, and that it is yet another emotional moment that the series has given us.

Ashely johnson the last of us
Johnson appears as Anna, holding a baby Ellie.

Why isn’t Johnson playing Ellie in the HBO show?

The main reason why Johnson can’t play Ellie in the show when she can in the game is age. Ellie is 14 years old in the Last of Us Part 1, and 19 in Part 2. Johnson, who is 39 years old now, was even in her late twenties back when she was involved in making the first game, meaning that she was already significantly older than her character.

But thankfully she hasn’t been blocked from the show completely, and she seems happy for Bella Ramsey to be her replacement, as the two were seen hugging as they, along with Troy Baker and Pedro Pascal, presented a gaming award recently.

Plus, Johnson has loads more on her plate at the moment, as she is currently a lead in hit animated series The Legend of Vox Machina, of which the second season has recently dropped.

Johnson is also known for her roles in The Avengers, Recess, and Teen Titans.

The Last of Us Season 1 has now been released in full. You can check out the rest of our coverage here.