The Last of Us season 2 cast member Isabela Merced talks about playing the video game, hypes up her chemistry with Bella Ramsey

Isabela Merced was just seen on the big screen in Madame Web, she has the lead role in the drama Turtles All the Way Down (which gets a Max streaming release in May), and she has Alien: Romulus coming our way in August. While we wait for her new movies, Merced is currently in production on season 2 of the HBO series adaptation of the video game The Last of Us, where she is taking on the role of Dina, a romantic love interest for the Ellie character, played by Bella Ramsey. Merced is doing the press rounds for Turtles All the Way Down, and during an interview with Collider she took a moment to talk about playing The Last of Us Part II video game and her chemistry with Bella Ramsey.

When asked if she was a fan of The Last of Us before being cast on the show, Merced said, “I have been a fan of the series. I actually hadn’t played the game until I found out about me potentially being in it, but I only played the second game and that was such an experience. I had a lot of fun. People say, ‘How did you have fun playing it? It’s a very sad story.’ But it’s just so well-made. When you see the Bloaters, your heart starts racing, your hands are all sweaty, and you can barely hold onto the controller. It’s just an amazing experience. I consider anything that makes my heart rate go up to be a fun experience, so I enjoyed it.

As for working with Ramsey, “I’m so excited for people to see my chemistry with Bella. Bella and I have so much chemistry. From the first day, it was there. There’s no work to be done. I really respect Bella. I just saw (the 2022 comedy) Catherine Called Birdy and Bella has such range and just an honesty about their work. I’m learning so much. I’m very honored to be here.

The story of the The Last of Us video game is set years after a fungal plague wiped out much of humanity, transforming most into vicious zombie-like monsters, the story follows Joel, who’s living in a militarized quarantine zone. He has a close relationship with Tess, who operates in the black market of this community. Together, they’ve become known by the local criminal underworld for their ruthlessness. On a mission to reclaim their stolen guns, they run into the leader of the Fireflies, a resistance group, who tasks them with smuggling a young girl named Ellie out of the zone. This mission soon becomes much more than they were prepared for. 

For the HBO series, Pedro Pascal plays Joel, who is “tormented by past trauma and failure. He must trek across a pandemic-ravaged America, all the while protecting a girl who represents the last hope of humanity”. He is joined in the cast by Bella Ramsey as Ellie, “an orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet and who struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging… as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world”; Anna Torv as Tess, “a smuggler and hardened survivor in a post-pandemic world”; Gabriel Luna as Joel’s brother Tommy, “a former soldier who hasn’t lost his sense of idealism and hope for a better world”; Merle Dandridge as Marlene, “the head of the Fireflies, a resistance movement struggling for freedom against an oppressive military regime”; Nico Parker as Joel’s daughter Sarah; Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, “a rebel in a quarantine zone”; Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett as Bill and Frank, “two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town”; and Storm Reid as Ellie’s best friend Riley.

Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who did the motion-capture performances for Joel and Ellie in the video game, are also in the cast of the show. Baker plays James, “a senior member of a group of settlers who must fight to keep their community alive in the face of increasingly brutal odds.” Baker also hosts a podcast that serves as a companion to the TV series. Johnson’s character is Anna, “a pregnant woman, alone and on the run, who must give birth under the most terrifying of circumstances.”

Merced’s fellow new season 2 cast members include Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart and No One Will Save You) as Abby Anderson, a major character from the video game who is described as being “a skilled soldier whose black-and-white view of the world is challenged as she seeks vengeance for those she loved”; Danny Ramirez (Top Gun: Maverick) as soldier named Manny, Ariela Barer (How To Blow Up a Pipeline) as young doctor Mel, Tati Gabrielle (You) as military medic Nora, Spencer Lord (Riverdale) as Owen, “a gentle soul trapped in a warrior’s body,” and Young Mazino of Beef as Jesse, “a pillar of his community who puts everyone else’s needs before his own, sometimes at terrible cost.” (Jesse also happens to be Dina’s ex.) Schitt’s Creek Emmy winner Catherine O’Hara is also in there, in an unspecified role. Merced said Dever is “one of the most talented actors I’ve ever worked with.”

Are you looking forward to watching The Last of Us season 2 and seeing Isabela Merced’s chemistry with Bella Ramsey? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Alien: Romulus
Isabela Merced as Kay in 20th Century Studios ALIEN ROMULUS Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios © 2024 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

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