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The Last of Us: Ashley Johnson on Bringing Ellie to Life

Fred Dutton's Avatar + Posted by Fred Dutton on May 31, 2013 // SCEE Blog Manager

The Last of Us on PS3

As you’ll find out in just two weeks’ time, Naughty Dog’s rabidly-anticipated new survival adventure The Last of Us does a phenomenal job of making you really care about its two protagonists, Joel and Ellie.

Partly through Neil Druckman’s nuanced writing, partly through the tactile, reactive gameplay, and partly through the pitch-perfect performances of the voiceover cast, The Last of Us packs an almighty emotional wallop to go with its blockbuster action set-pieces. It’s bar-setting stuff from the Uncharted studio, and these are characters that will resonate with you long after the game’s epic conclusion.

To find out a little more about how Naughty Dog pulled it off, we sat down for a quick chat with Ashley Johnson, the young actress bringing world-weary teen Ellie to life.

The Last of Us on PS3

PlayStation.Blog: How did you first get involved with the project?
 
Ashley Johnson: My voice-over agent sent me the audition and asked if I’d be interested in doing a video game. She warned me that it was motion capture and that whole thing. I said yes, so I went out for the audition and met with Neil, Bruce and Evan. I did a few auditions and got the part. After that I put on the mo-cap suit and we did auditions for Joel, until we finally settled on Troy (Baker).
 
PSB: How did you get on with mo-cap? Was it your first time?
 
AJ: Yes, it was my first. It’s been really fun. It was definitely difficult at first to get over the fact that you’re wearing this really strange suit but once you get into the scene and get into the character… Neil would show us all the environments and we’d get to see pictures of the world we were in – that made it pretty easy.
PSB: Does the suit make it more difficult to really inhabit the character?

“I actually think it helps in a lot of ways.”

AJ: It definitely was very different for me because I’m not used to it. Sometimes when you’re playing a character, how you’re dressed or what shoes you have on, that changes the way you walk and how you act. So when you have that funny suit on – just a skin-tight jumpsuit – and your hands are covered, and you have a sock on your head, it can be a little challenging at first!

But a couple of hours in you get used to it. I actually think it helps in a lot of ways. You have to expand your imagination a little bit more, which I think is really good.

PSB: Have you played the final game yet?

AJ: I’ve played parts of it. I haven’t been given a finished copy yet. But I’ve played parts when I’ve visited Naughty Dog. I’ve been tempted to play more… but I want to wait. I want to experience it as a whole. I don’t like spoilers and I don’t like watching trailers – I like to play something from start to finish.

The Last of Us on PS3

PSB: Has what you have seen of Ellie in the game surprised you at all?
 
AJ: It’s very weird. I think if you were voicing a character and then you see that person walking around with your body movements you’d think it was weird too. Weird and exciting. Mostly I’m just so excited that it’s done and I can’t wait for people to play it, knowing where the story goes. It’s going to be good!

//Add Your Own

43 Comments

1

+ IzoGray on May 31st, 2013 at 7:13 am said:

Day 1


2

+ GT-420 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:14 am said:

Sorry for being off topic, but where’s the June PS+ update?


3

+ DaveedT13 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:18 am said:

Day one here too. (Digital)

Nice work, ND, Neil and Ashley, thanks for your time and efforts. The voices in the trailers so far are really excellently done. I would say easily in the Top 5 of video games voices and mocap! Did I say easily? : )


4

+ T3DV0L70L1N4 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:21 am said:

Can we download the demo yet?


5

+ Gorvi on May 31st, 2013 at 7:22 am said:

Isn’t the demo out tonight if you have God of War Ascension?


6

+ Boyanime010 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:26 am said:

Thank You. I promise to purchase the Last Of Us on Day 1


7

+ Boyanime010 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:27 am said:

Please bring The Last of Us to PS4


8

+ Boyanime010 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:28 am said:

Dear Sony. I would like to play the Last of Us on PS4 in 1080P


9

+ Kedaro on May 31st, 2013 at 7:29 am said:

Looking forward to this as usual, Naughty Dog has become the definitive AAA studio.


10

+ Boyanime010 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:31 am said:

Already, pre-order for the Digital copy of The Last of Us


11

+ Boyanime010 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:32 am said:

You see, I will also purchase the game at Best Buy as well…


12

+ Solid_Figur3 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:42 am said:

Oh hey, Ashley also played nerdy Gretchen Grundler in Disney’s Recess, and the waitress in The Avengers.


13

+ Berae on May 31st, 2013 at 7:43 am said:

Today is the Last of us day for posts right? This one then the one about the demo then the one about the multiplayer right? ;)

Im not even a multiplayer fan but this one has me very intrigued. It sounds like its going to be different.


14

+ TheBratPrince79 on May 31st, 2013 at 7:58 am said:

Ready to play the demo in 2 hrs yayyyyyyyy!


15

+ HomicidalKaos on May 31st, 2013 at 8:03 am said:

Why does that video say 7/5/13?


16

+ xeno3d on May 31st, 2013 at 8:18 am said:

Delayed until 7/5/13??


17

+ ZarKryn7 on May 31st, 2013 at 8:33 am said:

I’ve got this Fred,

In europe their date system is different. day/month/year. That was their previous launch date after they delayed it.
Now its new release date is 6/14/13 or for europe 14/6/13


18

+ The_Dukenator on May 31st, 2013 at 8:35 am said:

@2 June 3.

@5 blog.us.playstation.com/2013/01/24/the-last-of-us-demo-coming-first-to-god-of-war-ascension-owners/


19

+ pickupdoctor on May 31st, 2013 at 8:53 am said:

I am to busy to play any game but I am making mandatory requirement in my house to Play This day one and finish it soon after.


20

+ Crazymanwalking1 on May 31st, 2013 at 8:59 am said:

What reason does ND have for waiting until 2 weeks before launch to talk about the Multiplayer component? that said does my pre-ordered Post-Pandemic edition include the season pass(anyone)?


21

+ Motherboop on May 31st, 2013 at 9:12 am said:

Any word on multiplayer? Would like to know a bit about it before opting for the season pass!


22

+ TJF588 on May 31st, 2013 at 9:13 am said:

Ellie for PSAS:BR !

Quip aside, to think there was pressure to drop this character. Oy… Alas, I’ll be holding off on the game, but I hope it does well.


23

+ snakeeyes211 on May 31st, 2013 at 9:19 am said:

Ashley Johnson is one gorgeous gal


24

+ D-Squad3 on May 31st, 2013 at 9:53 am said:

So where’s that MP news? We gotta wait until next week? Lol soon my @$$!

And how about adding the Season Pass to the people getting the Post Pandemic edition? That’s so much money invested that I think the season pass should be awarded to us.


25

+ TomatoDragon on May 31st, 2013 at 10:05 am said:

I have Ascension… making I’ll be playing the demo today. Can’t wait!


26

+ BramStark on May 31st, 2013 at 11:08 am said:

i hope they’ll make a version of this title for Vita :O


27

+ Airwalkinman17 on May 31st, 2013 at 11:30 am said:

I’m a fan already!
Congrats to the entire team at ND.
Making games is incredibly difficult.
Thanks for making games like this.
It feels like it was made just for me :D
lol


28

+ MP_is_for_Chumps on May 31st, 2013 at 11:53 am said:

There is something totally off about Naughty Dog choosing a 30yrld woman to portray a little girl in this game.


29

+ shb23 on May 31st, 2013 at 12:09 pm said:

@28 MP_is _for_Chumps

Dude, you’re gonna be so mad when you find out Mike Myers isn’t actually a green ogre named Shrek, and that Christian Bale isn’t actually Batman…


30

+ NYPUNK88 on May 31st, 2013 at 12:23 pm said:

Pre-ordered on PSN and I’m just waiting for the 14th! Come on stupid clock, go faster!


31

+ Hell_Bound666 on May 31st, 2013 at 1:10 pm said:

Is it true that there’s going to NOT be a public demo for the game(Besides the one on GOW)?


32

+ Pikmologist on May 31st, 2013 at 1:24 pm said:

*Buying five different versions of this game* This game is going to be great. Downloading the God of War Demo right now!


33

+ Pikmologist on May 31st, 2013 at 1:24 pm said:

I meant the demo included in God of War, haha


34

+ DonkeyKongKilla on May 31st, 2013 at 2:39 pm said:

Is someone sleeping on the Plus update?


35

+ Busca-Cabezas on May 31st, 2013 at 2:43 pm said:

Played the demo… Its safe to say I hate Clickers! Love Ellie! Her character has been growing on me since the Comic Book release. Great job Naughty Dog! The sixaxis rumble on thunders got me all rev’d up! Hehe!!


36

+ jboyjeeks on May 31st, 2013 at 7:49 pm said:

Played the demo and put my controller down, got in my car drove to Gameslop and put $40 down.


37

+ PrinceofXIII on June 1st, 2013 at 1:58 am said:

such a shame i have to wait till december to get this.

sorry naughty dog, got tons of backlog :(

plus MGS The Legacy Collection is coming out, so that will take a lot of my summer time :P


38

+ The_Dukenator on June 1st, 2013 at 5:43 am said:

@34 Come back on June 3rd.

I doubt Naughty Dog will bring Last of Us to PS4.

@37 I have a huge backlog, I just play what I can. But no plans to buy this game.


39

+ YorlecmNwahs on June 1st, 2013 at 4:58 pm said:

Go to Google

Search “Let’s Get FlatOut Head On PS Vita Compatible”

Click on the first result.

Sign the petition please.

Thank you


40

+ Matrix_Lion on June 1st, 2013 at 8:31 pm said:

I made my mind up about this game a long time ago (already pre-ordered).


41

+ Budapesti on June 2nd, 2013 at 8:13 pm said:

I met Ashley Johnson at E3 last year. She complimented me on my Doctor Who T-shirt. :)


42

+ cg1luv on June 3rd, 2013 at 8:47 am said:

I already preordered this game it would of been nice to play a demo instead of purchasing a game that u don’t want just to play the demo, I’ll wait till the 14th.


43

+ RepentantSky on June 3rd, 2013 at 12:45 pm said:

Wow Chrissy Seaver all grown up and playing, a kid? Yeah that’s a bit odd for me. Then again, she does tend to play young characters like Terra and what’s her name from Ben 10.


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