The Last Of Us: Co-Creator Craig Mazin Provides Season 2 Status Update, Rules Out Another Bill & Frank Episode, Reveals Season 3 Plans

Part 2 of two-part interview with The Last Of Us creator Craig Mazin about series’ 24 Emmy nominations, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and Season 2 of the hit HBO series.

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HBO’s Emmy-nominated The Last Of Us was renewed in January, shortly after the adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game premiered, quickly becoming a pop culture phenom. By May 1, when the writers strike began and script work was put on hold, the new season had already taken shape, The Last of Us co-creator/executive producer Craig Mazin told Deadline in an interview tied to the series’ big showing on Emmy nominations day, confirming the new writers who had joined him and fellow co-creator/EP, the game’s Neil Druckmann, for Season 2.

“We got pretty far actually, we were doing great,” Mazin said. “Neil and I had been sitting and talking with Halley Gross, who also worked on the second game as a writer, and Bo Shim, the new writer that was in our little tiny room with us — obviously not a mini room because we’re greenlit the proper, we’re a real show, and because I hate that mini room stuff.”

Ending the fraught practice of “mini rooms,” heavily employed by streamers for series ahead of greenlight or renewal, is among the list of demands the WGA has been pursuing in its contract negotiations with the studios.

Mazin also revealed that Episode 201 has been written.

“We know what the whole season is, and I was actually able to get a write and submit the first episode right before the deadline hit,” he said. “So now I’m just walking around kind of brain-writing, I guess, which I don’t think is scabbing. I take walks and I think through the scenes because when the bell rings and this is over because the companies have finally come to their senses, I’m going to have to basically shoot myself out of a cannon because we really want to try and get this show on the air when it’s supposed to be on the air.”

In an interview with Deadline in May, HBO Head of Drama Francesca Orsi said that the expectation for The Last Of Us is to return some time in 2025.

Two and a half months into the writers strike — and a day into an actors strike — there is still a possibility for Season 2 to make its original delivery date, Mazin said.

“We had a little more flexibility I think than normally just because we had to wait a little bit longer anyway to line up production with the weather. A lot of what we do is outside, and so we had a schedule that weirdly hasn’t been immediately impacted. But we’re getting pretty close; wе can’t keep our original start dates forever obviously,” he said. “If these strikes go much longer we inevitably will have to push and that hurts us, and it hurts the audience, and it hurts HBO. We all, everybody wants to get back to work; I think everybody that’s actually doing the work, including the network people who are with us on the ground, I think everybody just wants to get this solved. So fingers crossed.”

Filming of the first season kicked off in July 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, with the 200-day shoot taking place in various locations within the province. As Deadline revealed in March, Season 2 will be based in Vancouver as a significant part of the story in The Last Of Us Part II video game, which next season will draw upon, is set in the Pacific Northwest.

Orsi also told Deadline in May that “we have loosely heard that there will be a Season 3 idea for the series, but at this point, we’re taking it one season at a time. There’s no guarantee at this point that we’ll have a Season 3 but I know that they both have a vision for Season 3.”

Mazin confirmed that the plan is to go to Season 3 if The Last Of Us continues to do well.

“It’s going to be more than one season. There’s more story, so this show will not end with Season 2 unless people don’t watch it and we’ll get canceled,” he said. “Barring that, we will be doing some things exactly the way they were in the game. We’re going to do other things that are in the game and we’re gonna do some things that are in the game but we’re gonna do them differently in our own method. No matter if you have played the game or not. You will be surprised as the season unfolds. We have some interesting twists and turns.”

Season 1 of The Last Of Us introduced a slew of memorable characters who appeared for one or 2-3 episodes before dying. Seven of them earned the actors who portrayed them Emmy nominations, Anna Torv, Melanie Lynskey, Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett, Storm Reid, Keivonn Montreal Woodard and Lamar Johnson. Could we see any of them back in flashbacks next season?

“There’s always a chance for everything. With us you never know, and we obviously don’t confine ourselves by timelines. People who are dead sometimes reappear and sometimes we meet people that we didn’t even know and then we find out that they are somebody,” Mazin said. “What you won’t see is, for instance, another very special episode with Bill and Frank, we aren’t going to milk it. When we do something that we think is beautiful, we let it be as it is and find other beautiful things to do.”

Bill and Frank, played by Offerman and Bartlett, respectively, were characters in the much lauded Episode 3 of Season 1, “Long, Long Time,” which also laded Mazin a writing Emmy nomination.

In her interview, Orsi teased “a couple of new pieces of casting.” Abby, a major character in Part II of the game, is expected to be one of them.

Orsi also said that Mazin “is taking a big swing from both an entertainment standpoint, related to the clickers, but also just the more nuanced, complex character dynamic between our characters, Joel, Ellie and beyond.”

There had been talk that the amount of clickers will increase in Season 2 after some fans questioned the fact that Season 1 goes through long stretches without major zombie scenes.

In Season 2, “there will be moments, just like there were in the first season, where the infected are very present,” Mazin said.

For those crossover viewers who flocked to the series with no affinity for horror or video games, they may have to close their eyes a few more times next season, he cautioned.

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