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SYFY WIRE The Last of Us

Original 'The Last of Us' video game star signs on to play same role in HBO's live action adaptation

By Josh Weiss
Merle Dandridge

HBO and Craig Mazin's adaptation of global hit The Last of Us just gained a familiar face from the Naughty Dog video games upon which the show is based.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that actress Merle Dandridge, who provides the voice of Marlene in the source material, will also be playing the character in the live-action space. In the two Last of Us games, Marlene is the leader of the Fireflies, a resistance group that hopes to dismantle a military regime in a post-apocalyptic version of the United States ravaged by a mutated cordyceps fungus that turns people into raging zombie monsters.

During a 2013 interview with Alternative Magazine Online, Dandridge described Marlene as "complex," going to state that the character "genuinely wants to do the best thing for the greater good. I think life and circumstances have worn her down so much that lines have blurred for her as well. But, her heart is to do the right thing. I just love that about her ... Having ambiguous morality, I think, is part of what is so human about this piece."

The actress joins the HBO project's growing cast, which already includes Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as the story's main protagonists: Joel and Ellie. Gabriel Luna (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) has been tapped to play Joel's brother, Tommy. 

Still, not many actors get to make the jump from voicework to live-action (or vice versa). Dandridge is now part of an exclusive club that boasts the likes of fan favorites such as Katee Sackhoff's Bo-Katan Kryze from the Star Wars franchise, and Matt Ryan's John Constantine (from the live action DC shows and animated films).