Texas

Gabriel Luna opens up about his Texan roots in a role on the new HBO series The Last of Us.

Gabriel Luna is no stranger to Hollywood action films.

He was a superhero, terminator and CIA agent, and now the Austin-born and raised actor is taking on a post-apocalyptic role based on the critically acclaimed award-winning The Last of Us video game. as a rare successful live-action video game adaptation.

The new HBO series premieres this Sunday, January 15, and starts, like the game, in Austin. It stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, Luna as Joel’s younger brother Tommy, and Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

It was almost “destined” for Luna to get the role of Tommy, as both he and the character were born and raised in Texas. In fact, it was these ties that Austin, according to Luna, were “the icing on the cake” in the casting decision for showrunner Craig Mazin and game creator Neil Druckmann.

“I was familiar with this game,” Luna said. “It was one of the first stories I remember in Austin. And I remember, in my first experience, how amazing it was, and that we were recognized in this way. And, of course, there are still a lot of stories being told in Austin today – I think there’s a lot of great stuff going on there right now. But then it wasn’t like that.”

Like the game’s story, the series will follow Joel as he is tasked with escorting teenage Ellie through a post-apocalyptic USA teeming with infected zombie-like humans. Since its release in 2013, the gaming franchise has been highly acclaimed by gamers and critics alike, making the task of adapting something daunting for Luna.

“I can say that the game itself was one of the most beautiful stories I’ve been able to absorb in video games, movies and TV,” Luna said. “It really was, at its core, a beautiful story that was very hard to digest as you go through it, experiencing it as a player. This is intensity. It’s raw with emotion. It’s a really exciting story.”

Luna attributed the success of this new adaptation not only to Mazin and Druckmann’s devotion to the story, but also to the playful atmosphere that prevailed on set, as evidenced by his co-star Ramsey playing guitar between takes. Luna says he felt a connection to it, as he also takes a guitar with him to work, given to him by Texas filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.

“So, you know, we had this whole team of people who were all, shall we say, gamers — video game or not,” Luna said.

When it comes to working as a Hispanic in Hollywood, Luna says he reflects on the perks he’s received playing roles in old franchises – from The Terminator to Marvel – and the space that opens up for others to see themselves represented on the big screen. . screen.

“A lot of them are cinematic worlds that were created decades ago and that we still love very much, and that I was able to experience as a viewer and as a fan, and then fall right into the middle of it. Luna said. “And it’s always nice to hear people tell me they’re proud to have someone to represent them on screen. This is extremely important to me.

And on top of that, I think it’s important that also those young people who are like me, and the goal has always been that young people who are not like me can also see something in me and in the characters that I am. depict. . I think the end goal in general is for us to get a story and hitch our wagon to the soul of these people, not something superficial and superficial.”

That feeling he brings with him as Tommy, a character Luna says he felt “a shared spirit” after meeting Geoffrey Pearce, who provided the performance capture and voice acting for the role in the game. In addition to being from Austin, which Luna says he still visits every year, Tommy epitomizes the “good old boy” sense of normalcy.

“He and his brother are normal in every sense of the word,” said Luna, “and only when life tests them and the world becomes what it is becoming and becomes as dangerous as it can be, should they rise to the point and become something-” then big.”

Luna says she’s looking forward to audiences seeing the role when The Last of Us premieres on Sunday.

“I was very proud of myself when I watched this on screen a couple of days ago,” Luna said. “You know, there’s always some doubt, you know? ‘We did it? Did we do everything right? And I can say from the bottom of my heart that this is right. And I’m looking forward to everyone seeing it.”

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