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Who Should Play Tess in HBO’s The Last of Us?

Tess and Joel in the Last of Us

The Last of Us is heading to HBO with Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, and Gabriel Luna as Tommy Miller. While I am new to the game and have been learning more/getting ready for my first play-through in preparation for the series, it has made me a little more invested in the other characters that helped make The Last of Us one of the most popular games out there.

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For fans of the series, they grew with these characters as they played and even those characters who had brief moments throughout the game left their mark. One of those characters is Tess. The character works with Joel prior to him meeting Ellie and the two clearly share a trust with one another so … who should play her in the upcoming HBO series?

I think that Annie Wersching, who brought Tess to life with her voiceover acting as well as motion capture work, would make a great choice for live-action Tess—something my friend Brandon SanGiovanni agrees with. To be fair, she’s a popular suggestion.

The suggestions ranged throughout pop culture icons.

My friend Sophie Martin, who I’ve been talking to about the game, brought up a joke suggestion from the fandom with Laura Bailey, who played Abby in The Last of Us Part II. And also suggested Tatiana Maslany, who I would love to see take on Tess. But as you can see, there is a wide range of actresses that people would love to see play Tess.

My personal favorites are Lena Headey.

lena headey gif

And then Stephanie Beatriz.

STephanie Beatriz gif

What’s great about Tess in the game is that she’s never really questioned about her strength. When we meet her, she rolls up to Joel’s apartment to meet with him and the two embark on finding Robert only to have Marlene (who I want to be played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) ask them to smuggle something out of the city. “Something” is a little vague because it’s actually a 14-year-old girl named Ellie who is “infected” with the parasite that is turning those around them into zombie-like beings. But Ellie was bitten three weeks ago and hasn’t turned, despite everyone else turning within two days.

So when Tess and Joel try to get her out of the city, Tess is bitten and quickly starts to become infected, proving to herself and Joel that Ellie might just be the key to stopping this entire thing. Her role might not be a huge part of the show, but Tess is important in the game, and having an actress who can show that strength and willpower to get Ellie to those who can help is important, and I think any of these actors can take on Tess and do so beautifully.

I am beyond excited for The Last of Us. After watching the intro to the game and going through a stream of it with my friend, I fell in love with the characters and the world-building because it is, at its core, about humanity and our struggle to survive. And getting to see that kind of story after the last year we had is going to be an emotional ride and I’m ready for it.

(image: Sony)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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