Matthew McConaughey was once in talks to play Joel in The Last Of Us, but his potential casting never became “serious”.
While the HBO adaptation of the video game was in development, reports claimed True Detective stars Mahershala Ali and McConaughey were both in contention to play the role of Joel in the series, which eventually went to Pedro Pascal.
Show co-creator Craig Mazin addressed the rumours on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, where he confirmed talks with McConaughey had taken place.
“I actually never talked to Mahershala,” Mazin said. “I did talk to Matthew [McConaughey]. I can’t say it was serious. It was more like, ‘Hey, here’s something we can talk about.’”
He added: “It’s one of those things where, I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where it’s a different actor. Matthew McConaughey is an amazing actor, I’m sure it would’ve been great, but it would’ve been different, and I like the one that we made.”
While Pascal was on the creator’s “list from the start” to play Joel, Mazin was initially told by his agent that he was unavailable.
“As we were floundering about a little bit, I got a call from his agent who said, ‘You know, he actually might be available,’” Mazin said. “Normally when you send scripts off to actors like this, you’re lucky if you get a read within a month. He was in England at the time working on a movie and I thought between the movie and the time change, this will be forever. I sent it on Friday. Saturday morning I get a call: ‘He loves it. He wants to get on a Zoom.’”
Pascal stars opposite Bella Ramsey as Ellie in the series, which follows the pair as they navigate through a post-apocalyptic America that’s been ravaged by a deadly infection. The series was renewed for a second season in January.
In a four-star review, NME wrote: “Gamers have been burned before by poorly conceived adaptations of their favourite titles, so they were naturally skeptical. But they needn’t have been. The Last Of Us lacks novel ideas, but when it’s this good it can get away with it.”