Merle Dandridge Talks ‘The Last of Us’ 10-Year Anniversary and Reuniting with Ashley Johnson

10 years have passed since then The last of us was originally released, and since then, the series has reached the stratosphere in terms of success.

From the original game to the now-Emmys-focused HBO series, actress Merle Dandridge has been with the franchise every step of the way as Firefly Marlene. She portrayed the character in three mediums: games, television, and a play, defining Marlene more deeply in each iteration.

In the season 1 finale, the actress was also able to reunite with Ashley Johnson — who voices Ellie in the games — playing Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) mother as she gives birth. This added another layer to the character once it was revealed that Joey (Pedro Pascal) is leading Ellie to her death, all according to Marlene’s plan to use her immunity to cure humanity of the fungal virus that is plaguing the world.

Dandridge talks about the success of the HBO shows The last of us and the reunion with Johnson and reflects on The last of us the franchise after 10 years.

What do you think about this The last of us being a big contender at the Emmys, what does it mean to be such a massive hit?

Merle Dandridge: I think the hope was that people would grasp and understand what heart and excellence and craft and love we put into it and that it was translated so beautifully to the screen in a way that people get it. They catch what we are trying to stretch; I capture the heart and the core and the passion and the humanity of it and the fact that I think something that could have been written off as another video game adaptation or another zombie series has actually transcended all of those things into something that’s deeply honest and meaningful and that really touches the heart of who we are, what we want, what we fight for and what really matters.

What was it like coming in and working with Ashley Johnson during the final episode and introducing Ellie to the world in a new way?

Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of meta, right? And also the fact that I get to share the screen with a dear friend who loves this project as much, if not more, than I do. And we get to look into each other’s eyes and not just in our (motion capture) suits in something that we know is going to be animated, (and) you can see the way Ashley and Merle look at each other and how (we have) over a decade of experience with these characters and how much we both love Ellie and how we brought her into the world in this heartbreakingly beautiful way.

It was great that Neil (Druckmann) and Craig (Mazin) took care to put us in such a position that they knew would be emotionally charged from the beginning, but that it would all also be a blink of an eye. and a hug to the fans who have stuck with Ashley and I in these characters so long that almost together, we can hold hands and say, bring our girl into this world.

merle dandridge talks ‘the last of us’ 10-year anniversary and reuniting with ashley johnson

Liane Hentscher/HBO

Aside from the character dynamics, the thing that sticks with the audience the most is the ending. How do you reflect? The last of us for 10 years and was involved in it throughout?

Well, first of all, thanks for your kind words about the ending. I think we were all in the same boat that we wanted to do well. And because of that, because we love the story and we wanted to make sure it was served, we were all deeply committed to making sure that—the tone, the look, the feel, everything—it spoke in an authentic and accurate way. for the medium, but very much honored the source material. Now to sum up 10 years of being a part of this franchise is… words can’t really convey how I feel about it. It is a deep-rooted joy and satisfaction in my heart that I have made such wonderful friends along the way who have worked on this project, that the characters have been given such great life thanks to their extraordinary talent and talent to work with people. of that caliber, and then for him to like it so much, that’s awesome.

And then the fact that we can share this story over the years in so many different ways is fantastic. And now that we’ve had the great fortune of bringing it to the screen with HBO, bringing on board a whole new set of artists who are amazing in their craft and that we’re able to link arms and communicate and talk about, again. , what is really true and authentic, when we talk about who we love and why and how meaningful and heartbreaking that can be, has been an amazing gift. (laugh) I really can’t give you a firm answer. I could probably give you some really hard tears because it meant a lot. But in my soul, I have this – in the seat of my soul, a deep thanks for this gift.

Can we expect any extended scenes or deleted scenes involving Marlene when The Last of Us: The Complete First Season is it out on dvd july 18th?

There is a lot of content. I’m actually excited to see what ends up on the DVD bonus bits because there was a lot of footage that was captured behind the scenes on screen there. We will see. I am excited. We have a lot of things.

The last of usSeason 2, TBA, HBO

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