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Here’s Where You’ve Seen the Incredible Actress Behind Riley on ‘The Last of Us’ Before

Storm Reid as Riley in HBO's The Last of Us TV series.

While watching the seventh episode of HBO’s The Last of Us series, probably through tears, you might have stopped for a second and thought, “I’ve seen Riley somewhere before.” And yep, you have!

In The Last of Us, Riley is another teen with a not-so-great life, though she’s trying to do something about it. Riley is planning to join the Fireflies, the rebel group opposing the military rule of FEDRA. But her feelings for Bella Ramsey’s Ellie are so strong that she can’t resist but take her on a special date to an abandoned mall before she leaves town forever, and it’s during that date that things take a turn for the very, very tragic.

Spoiler alert: She’s bitten by an Infected, and that leads to her death, a death we thankfully don’t see all the way to its conclusion, but jeez, it’s a punch in the gut. So Riley, like so many other characters in this show, won’t be showing up again unless it’s a flashback. Sorry!

But before the awful bite happens we get to see young love blossom between Riley and Ellie, just as we saw it in the original video game. (There, Riley was voiced and mo-capped by actress Yaani King.) Their eventual first kiss is one of the most touching moments in the show so far, which makes it all the more saddening that the actors have had to preemptively defend themselves against homophobic review-bombing.

Related: The Last of Us Evolves Video Game Adaptation on The Escapist

Who is the actress behind The Last of Us’s Riley?

image: Disney Storm Reid as Meg Murry in Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Ava DuVernay

Riley is played by 19-year-old Storm Reid, who had her breakthrough role in the Ava DuVernay-directed A Wrinkle in Time back in 2018. The movie was a box office bomb, unfortunately, but Reid’s performance was nonetheless praised, and it set her on the path to bigger things. Since then, she’s been in projects including The Invisible Man, The Suicide Squad, When They See Us, and the Zendaya-led HBO juggernaut that is Euphoria.

Reid’s message for any of those aforementioned trolls, as stated to Entertainment Weekly after the episode dropped, was “There’s so many other things to worry about in life. Why are you concerned that these young people — or anybody — love each other?” as well as that sadly oft-ignored piece of advice: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

Review-bombing and attacks on The Last of Us

Unfortunately though, the review-bombing may have already started. The Riley-Ellie episode “Left Behind” has picked up an influx of 1-star reviews on IMDb, just as the earlier “Long, Long Time,” which told an equally touching gay love story, did. Currently “Left Behind” and “Long, Long Time” occupy the lowest and second-lowest places on IMDb’s ranking of episodes, which is a total coincidence, I’m sure!

But on a much better note, Reid’s performance in “Left Behind” has rightly won her a whole lot of applause. In between the crying and wailing and gnashing their teeth, Twitter users gave her shoutouts as they digested the horror of the episode.

Reid portrayed the tragedy of Riley perfectly, and before too long, she could well be taking Hollywood by Storm.

(featured image: HBO)

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Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer and fake geek girl. She has an unreliable brain but boundless, occasionally misplaced enthusiasm.