The Last of Us Episode 5 was arguably its most ambitious to date, shifting the action to Kansas City and following Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as they evade loads of infected.
The action scenes proved so intense, in fact, that filming them left Ramsey with “so many bruises,” and even a “real black eye.”
“At one point [an actor playing a Clicker] was flailing around dying…during a take the poor guy whacks me in the eye…I almost stopped the take, but I didn’t,” Ramsey recalls in a new interview for Fan Fest 2023.
In the episode, Joel and Ellie find themselves caught in the middle of a manhunt involving Henry and his younger brother, Sam, as they flee a revolutionary group that recently conquered the city.
The shoots spanned three weeks in Calgary, with most of them taking place at night. Ramsey was “chronically exhausted” through most of the filming, describing it as “incredibly stressful in a way that felt amazing.” In the end, even amid the fatigue and the black eye, she looks back on the period fondly.
“I was so proud of it,” Ramsey says. “I had a great time.”
‘None of it was ever calculated’
Pascal and Ramsey star in HBO’s adaptation of PlayStation’s popular post-apocalyptic action series, which has mushroomed into a crossover hit since its debut back in January. The fifth episode sits at the midpoint of the first season, which covers the original game.
In the show, Pascal’s Joel is a surrogate father for Ramsey’s Ellie, protecting her as they make their way to Wyoming. Their chemistry in the show is evident in the interview as the pair joke about wayward horses, whether or not Pascal would make it through a fungus apocalypse (Pascal: “I wouldn’t”), and practical jokes.
Recalling a scene where the group flee a quarantine zone through a dark tunnel, Pascal talked about how he managed to “scare the sh*t” out of Ramsey.
“None of it was ever calculated, it was all very spontaneous,” Pascal remembers. “But one time I scared the shit out of Bella…they were being such little kids on the set while we were escaping the QZ and they were so scared and they had to go through the big tunnel…basically they were in there and being like, ‘This is so spooky.’ And I took the opportunity to scare the sh*t out of them,” Pascal says, demonstrating how he scared Ramsey with a shout. “I haven’t been so happy in my entire life.”
We praised their performances in our review of The Last of Us Season 1, writing that Ramsey is “dynamite from the offset” and “goes from strength to strength in step with Joel and Ellie’s relationship as the season progresses.”
As for Pascal, he “fits the role perfectly; stoic in the face of adversity and able to position himself at each end of Joel’s emotional spectrum, from warmly caring to ruthlessly violent.”
‘Oh, you play a guitar’
With four episodes remaining in the series — and a second season already confirmed — there’s still plenty of depths to uncover between the two characters. Ramsey hinted at one particular beat when talking about auditioning for her role on the show.
“I made a point of positioning my laptop in a place where my guitar was hanging up in the background. Just so they knew,” Ramsey says, “and [Neil Druckmann] pointed it out in the Zoom and said, ‘Oh, you play a guitar.’ And I said, ‘Maybe a bit.'”
A guitar, of course, winds up figuring prominently into Ellie’s story. But even if Ramsey hadn’t been able to play, she thinks Druckmann and company would have figured out a solution.
“They’re so clever with what they can do these days that they can probably animate my fingers playing guitar so I don’t think it really made a difference,” she says. She pauses, smiling, then adds, “Actually, [the guitar] is probably the only reason I got the job, thinking about it.”
We’ll have to wait a little longer to see Ellie play her iconic guitar. But in the meantime, Ramsey says there’s plenty to look forward to as The Last of Us heads into the second half of its first season, including some of the most intense setpieces to date.
“Just moments of intense physicality and emotion,” Ramsey says, grinning. “You’re in for a real treat.”
The Last of Us Episode 6 debuts on February 19.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.