Why Neil Druckmann Risked The Video Game’s Legacy To Make HBO’s The Last Of Us

“So much of, I think, what makes this story special is this relationship between Joel and Ellie, and how they incrementally change over a long period of time, over an entire year,” Druckmann explained. “To try to condense that to two hours always felt like it was going to be compromised and it will never live up to the game.” The writer/director says he was able to see a path forward for the adaptation after meeting with Craig Mazin, the show’s eventual co-creator and showrunner. Druckmann says he spoke with Mazin about his work on the fantastic and harrowing limited series “Chernobyl,” adding, “I was such a huge fan of the tone and how beautiful that story was told.”

In the end, it sounds like it was a combination of Druckmann’s faith in HBO’s programming — he cites shows like “The Sopranos,” “The Leftovers,” and “Watchmen” as “fantastic storytelling” — and in Mazin’s ability to tell a tough story well that made this adaptation of “The Last Of Us” worth it for him. Druckmann says when he watched “Chernobyl,” he was worried “that it would be too depressing,” but was impressed to find that it was an “engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking” thriller. “Oh man, if I could team up with this guy to tell the story, maybe there’s a good chance of doing a good version of it,” Druckmann recalled thinking.