Friday, February 23, 2024

The Last of Us, Lamar Johnson: “A series that stages moral dilemmas”

The Last of Us, Lamar Johnson: "A series that stages moral dilemmas"

Yes, episode number three of The Last of Us is a masterpiece of seriality, both for writing and for staging (our review here), but also the shocking fifth episode is destined to enter the imagination of a series that continues to surprise. Endure and Survive, directed by Jeremy Webb, on-demand only on Sky and streaming on NOW, is a further interlude of the impervious path of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), when in the ruins of Kansas City they come across Henry, played by Lamar Johnson, and his brother Sam, with the face of the young Keivonn Montreal Woodard. Like Joel for Ellie, Henry must also protect Sam from the imploding world that forms the backdrop to the HBO series.

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The Last of Us: a scene from the fifth episode

Precisely this aspect was one of the topics that we dealt with Lamar Johnsonduring our long interview. “The core of my preparation was establishing a relationship with the character of Sam”explains the actor: “So I wanted to make sure that our relationship and our bond, not only in the beginning, but also later on, was strong, developed. I’m really happy with the character that. But that was the first point. Number two was obviously approach to sign language. So, to get into that situation, I had to learn sign language to communicate with him. So there was a lot of preparation, but when we started shooting, everything flowed very organic”.

Lamar Johnson and his character, Henry

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The Last of Us: Lamar Johnson e Keivonn Woodard nel quinto episodio

Another point addressed with Lamar Johnson, Canadian, born in 1994, are precisely the nuances of his character, Henry forced to perform desperate actions in a desperate context. “I think Henry internalizes a lot of what he goes through because, again, he has to be strong for Sam. Henry worries about something before Sam even realizes what’s going on. In the series, I knew we only had eleven days of food, but Sam didn’t know until he asked for food. My character was trying to find a suitable way to tell him that he was running out. So, I think Henry does his best to protect Sam from everyone and everything.”Johnson continues. The comparison made between Henry and Sam and between Joel and Ellie is also interesting.

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The Last of Us: a scene from the fifth episode

In between, the heroic vision of the protector. One of the many reflections of The Last of Us. “I’m Sam’s protector, and Joel is Ellie’s protector. So there’s a reflection, and in a way you can already tell from the dynamic” ci dice Lamar Johnson. “Being a superhero to Sam was a way of instilling confidence in Sam that he can do it and he can endure and he can survive because superheroes survive. Superheroes endure. safety and trust in Sam”.

The Last of Us, the review: A painful journey that we couldn’t wait to make

The Last of Us e… God of War

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The Last of Us: Keivonn Woodard in a scene from the fifth episode

During the interview, Lamar Johnson explained that his approach to The Last of Us he was influenced by his knowledge of the original game, which was developed by Naughty Dog for the Sony PlayStation. “Yeah, well, I knew about the game. A lot of my friends are big fans of the game too. I thought before the audition, ‘Wow, I know exactly what this is’, but I didn’t want to create a carbon copy of what the actor was doing in the game. I wanted to take that as a foundation and understand the story arc and how it evolved. Craig did a fantastic job with the script, and there are some changes. I just wanted to serve what was on the pages. Ultimately, it was about understanding Henry’s character, understanding where he came from and where he was going, and making informed choices based on that understanding.”. Not only that, when we ask him what other game he’s passionate about, he says: “I haven’t played much lately. But actually I’d say God of War was a very exciting video game…”.

The Last of Us, between fear and hope: the series seen by those unfamiliar with the video game

The shock of the episode 1×05 of The Last of Us

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The Last of Us: Pedro Pascal in a scene from the fifth episode

As mentioned, the 1×05 di The Last of Us it is one of the moments of maximum emotional impact for the spectators (if you haven’t seen the episode yet, don’t read: spoiler alert!)so much so that Lamar Johnson’s work on the set was not easy at all “Yes, it was a difficult day”trust, “We shot that scene for most of the day, it was very emotionally demanding as well. But Kevin and I, Sam and I, we built a great relationship. Jeremy, the director of episodes four and five, and I were in front of the monitor and we watched the scene together of Sam and Ellie, and we both had tears in our eyes. If I had to say a word, I would just say ‘shock’. And through the shock, so many emotions come through you…”.

The Last of Us, the review of the fifth episode: the silence of the lambs

“Cinema and series are the same thing”

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The Last of Us: Pedro Pascal with Lamar Johnson in a scene from the fifth episode

The scenographic and visual system of The Last of Uscreated by Craig Mazin e Neil Druckman, is one of the characterizing elements, illuminating the production capacity of HBO. About it, Johnsnon said: “I got to witness the game being made firsthand in such an amazing way. The production design is some of the best I’ve seen in my life. There are also a lot of handcrafted, handcrafted effects. , and that made our job so much easier. Getting on set and seeing these environments, these spaces, really helped me get into character and make it happen!”.

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The Last of Us: a scene from the fifth episode

An idea that makes us ask the actor if, today, series and cinema are complementary, no longer different: “I think the lines are blurring, especially recently, in the last couple of years, there’s been some really great series, which are sort of long movies.”tells. “Looking at The Last of Us, I’d say it’s basically a nine-hour movie. There’s a lot of story, there’s a lot of arc, there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of development. I’m really enjoying it. It really feels like a movies. Recently, in the last two years, the lines have become blurred, there have been some fantastic series, and now people would rather go to a TV series than sit in the cinema”.

The Last of Us, because it’s the 2023 TV event

The final sense of the HBO series

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The Last of Us: a hug between Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard in the fifth episode

In conclusion, Lamar Johnson focused on today’s representation of African Americans, in cinema as in seriality. “I think ultimately it’s about the stories we tell. If we lean into the stereotype, we’re going to see police brutality one way or another. It’s the same kind of storytelling. But now we’re able to tell new stories, focusing on African Americans who actually exist, in numerous places in our lives. It would be nice to be able to see that and see us represented on screen in more ways, here”. In the end, the (creepy) reflection concerns the totality of The Last of Usand its most hidden and disturbing meanings. “Seeing the series many of your moral choices are called into question. In a world like that of The Last of Us you have to make difficult decisions, your own morality in these decisions is sometimes called into question. Henry then is a pure soul He’s a good guy. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but he’s driven to do heinous things…”