‘The Last of Us’ star breaks down his hard-hitting contributions to the premiere

Photo via HBO

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the premiere episode of The Last of Us. 

Gabriel Luna stars as Tommy in the live-action adaptation of The Last of Us, and approached his role with the utmost precision, honoring the works of Jeffrey Pierce, who portrayed the character in the original video game.

While he didn’t have much screentime in the first episode, Tommy’s scenes served an important purpose of introducing viewers to his dynamic with his brother and niece, and that also meant delivering the most nuanced performance during the episode’s most heartbreaking moment. 

Luna spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his dedication to the story, and shed some light on his gut-wrenching addition to the overwhelming scene of Sarah’s unfortunate demise. The actor revealed that he had to transport fans of the video game back to the first time they witnessed the moment in question, while ticking all the boxes in terms of timing and delivery.

That scene was obviously very important to me. I circled it on the schedule many weeks prior, and I looked forward to it because of the action and timing involved. There’s emotional gravity that comes with the iconic nature of the scene, so all of that was weighing on my mind in terms of how I would ultimately want to execute on the day.

So I did incorporate a lot of what was in the game. This was a moment that Craig felt very strongly about and how it needed to truly take the gamers back into the game. So, the blocking and the framing, we drew a lot of it from the game, and I certainly drew on some of Jeffrey’s physical geometry. So it was generally very important to keep it the same.

On the night, as Tommy, I looked at Joel, my brother, and saw him in pain. I witnessed what happened to this young girl, who is like a daughter to me. I saw the severity of her wound, and based on my experience in the military, I knew that it was fatal. I was the first person to come to terms with what was happening.

With over 80 minutes of runtime, there’s a lot to take away from the debut episode of The Last of Us. While the first 30 minutes of the episode are dedicated to creating a bond with Nico Parker’s character Sarah, much of the story still remains perfectly faithful to the original video game from which it was adapted. With many standout moments from the premiere, by far the most painful for viewers was Sarah’s death, but it was that very subtle detail in that scene by Luna that elevated it all and added more of an emotional weight, because it was with that look that we knew her time on screen had come to an end.