Ashley Johnson's The Last of Us Part II Variety InterviewReported on Thursday, July 2nd 2020 by BTVA Team
Ashley Johnson, the voice of Ellie from 2013's The Last of Us, sat down with Variety to talk about the challenges and pressure of making a sequel to the critically acclaimed game, as well as how she handled her character's trauma.
Variety: You couldn't have predicted how well-received the first game would become. With that in mind, did you feel a different kind of pressure heading into the sequel?
Johnson: Absolutely. I think with the first game, that was my first motion-capture video game and really, video game for the most part, that I'd ever worked on, and I learned so much from Troy [Baker, who voices Joel] and from Neil and it's a whole different type of set. Everything is different. And what I've learned from this experience and doing motion-capture, is this is a medium that I love to work in because the possibilities are endless. It's like theater. And I was nervous, obviously, to try to make a sequel that hopefully would resonate with people, but mostly just because of playing the main player character. That made me nervous, and I worked so much with Troy, and I leaned on him so much during the shooting of the first game. It made me nervous to be that person this time around. Knowing how much the fans of the game are as possessive of it as I am, I wanted to do as good of a job in telling the story as I could.
Variety: Ellie is definitely dealing with a lot – she has a lot of trauma, PSTD, survivor's guilt. And the game approaches that in very hard, but largely very honest ways. What kind of conversations did you have with Neil and Halley about portraying Ellie's trauma?
Johnson: I think a lot of it was talking with Neil and with Halley… How do we tell that story and tell the story in the best way for people to sort of relate to that and understand what dealing with anxiety or PTSD, what that feels like? And it was important for us to get that right. And we had a lot of discussions about it, a lot of stuff that I don't know if I feel comfortable talking about [laughs], but you know, it was really important for us to get that right, because a lot of people do deal with anxiety and PSTD. We really worked hard on getting that right.
A lot of the response I get from people who have played it, they're like, "it's so hard to see Ellie go through this and be in these situations." It's funny how, in the first game, some of the experiences that Joel goes through, there's some similarities there. But it is really hard to see a 19-year-old girl make some similar decisions.
The Last of Us Part II is out now exclusively on PlatyStation 4. Read the full-length interview at the source link below.