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Iconic ‘The Last of Us’ Role Was Almost Played by OFMD Fandom’s Angry Short King

Either way, I'm a fan.

Our Flag Means Death Rhys Darby and Con O'Neill

The Last of Us has taken over our hearts and minds, much like the disgusting cordyceps fungus on the show. The HBO series focuses mainly on Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) traversing a post-apocalyptic America full of fungus-infected former humans and people doing what all they must in order to survive in the new world.

Every week, audiences go on an emotional rollercoaster, but the third episode takes the lead for tear-inducing stories. Instead of Joel and Ellie, we saw the tale of Bill and Frank. Much of the emotional impact of “Long, Long Time” came from the amazing performances by Nick Offerman as Bill and Murray Bartlett as Frank. On the official The Last of Us podcast, the creators of the show revealed Bill was originally supposed to be played by Con O’Neill—or as fans of Our Flag Means Death fans know him, Izzy Hands, the angry short king that stole our hearts.

A different version of Bill

The story of Bill and Frank is an apocalyptic romance for the ages. Bill, before the world ended, was a doomsday prepper and seemed like a bit of a loner. He didn’t seem to mind that his entire town disappeared. While alone, he was finally living his best life. Until he met Frank. Frank was the opposite of Bill, cheery and hopeful despite the state of the world. Bill’s gruff exterior softened for Frank as they fell in love.

Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann told host Troy Baker that Con O’Neill was set to play Bill. However, it didn’t come to fruition due to scheduling conflicts with filming for Our Flag Means Death‘s second season. It made me wonder if the episode would have had a different vibe if Con had played Bill instead of Offerman. Con O’Neill is no stranger to playing surly men that audiences fall in love with. Just look at Isreal “Izzy” Hands. Like Bill, Izzy is surly and a bit of a loner. Although he holds one man, Blackbeard, in high regard and seems to build his life around that man. Con as Bill makes sense.

Yet after watching the episode, it is difficult to imagine anyone besides Offerman playing the part. He was so perfect in that role. As much as Con would have done a great job, maybe it is for the best that it worked out this way. At least we know we will get more Con as Izzy in OFMD. Maybe the second season will see Izzy fall in love with someone who actually appreciates him and can take care of him. The fandom knows that guy just needs a hug and a kiss. Hopefully, Izzy will someday get his own Bill and Frank arc.

(featured image: HBO)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a freelance pop culture writer. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. She fangirls over the X-Men, folklore podcasts, and historical fantasy. When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse and offspring.