‘The Last of Us’ stars Lamar Johnson and Kevan Woodard in emotional portrayal of endurance and survival

Consumer Warning: This interview details Season 1, Episode 5 HBO’s our end.

HBO’s critically acclaimed horror-drama our end Our hearts continue to break and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. Episode 5, titled “Endure and Survive,” follows the story of two brothers named Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Kevon Woodard) as they try to escape the strict confines of a quarantine zone run by Kathleen (a ruthless radical leader named Melanie). Lynskey). Along their journey, they team up with Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Eli (Bella Ramsey) to better ensure their safety as they travel among the roaming infected, hoping for a chance at a better life. Although adapted from the video game of the same name, The Last of Us series creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckman managed to elevate and expand on the beloved characters in a significant way, this time the pair cast Woodard to add Sam’s inclusion of disability. Deaf child actor. By incorporating American Sign Language between the two characters, it not only adds dimension but also highlights the beauty of communication that goes beyond hearing.

Here, actors Johnson and Woodard discuss the formation of their brotherly bond, their inspiration and shooting that final scene.

Deadline: Lamar, I love the inclusion of adding Keivonn to the series. Did you know before the process that you would be working with a deaf child actor? And how did the two of you work together to bring this relationship to life?

Johnson: When I booked the role I found out they would include Keivonn and ASL. And for me, I didn’t know any sign before going on set, so it was a crash course, but I had a director in ASL with interpreters that helped me wrap my head around sign language in our scenes. And I think that sign has deepened our relationship because communication is not only through words, but also body language. And I think that really bonded us because we had to communicate through emotion and I think people felt that in our performance.

It was easy to connect with Keivon because he’s such a great kid. He is extremely talented, and we both really connected and committed to these roles. And we had a really great group of people behind us and we supported each other. So, when I saw many changes [to Henry and Sam’s story]Especially with Sam going deaf, I was really happy because I felt like it added a nice layer of intimacy between Henry and Sam and their connection.

DEADLINE: In this episode, Henry deals with his moral dilemma that the beloved leader of this anti-Phaedra group was killed along with Joel to save Sam’s life. Considering this is a new story line for the character, how did you feel about the decision to double-cross the team Henry was with?

Johnson: It informed me of Henry’s love for Sam as he is willing to make difficult decisions to keep her safe. He is her only care giver and protector. So it really shows you how far Henry will go to keep Sam safe, even if it means giving up his life to save his own. That revealed it to me. And do I understand that? Yes. They live in a very harsh world and are Sam Henry’s objective. It is his will to live. And if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have the will to live. So, do I agree with doing your best to protect and preserve the things you love and care about in this world? Yeah, it’s a tough one, but I think I understand where she’s coming from and I think Joel does too.

Kevin Woodard as Sam

Leanne Hencher/HBO

DEADLINE: Keivon, on the show, your character paints his face to help him embody a superhero that makes him feel brave enough to deal with the harsh realities of the world he lives in. Going through times that may be scary for you?

Woodard: My dad passed away and someone told me it was really important for me to be strong. And as a black person, that matters. I use that memory to look inside myself and motivate myself to be brave, even when feeling down or struggling. I try my best to be brave. Also, Miles Morales is my favorite superhero.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about this incredibly intense action sequence ripped straight from the game. It’s crawling with tons of bullets and infected. What was that experience like filming?

Johnson: It was quite intense; was all [practical]. The entire cul-de-sac was built; All the houses are real when the victims come out of the ground. It was all stunt men and stunt women with this crazy makeup and everything like that. It was an intense day, but it was actually a lot of fun because I, personally, could see the amount of work and dedication from the makeup team and the special effects team. I think there’s probably… I couldn’t even tell you how many clickers there were that day, but there were some people who were there… I mean, we’re shooting at night at that time, so we’re shooting until very early in the morning, maybe around 5:00. , will wrap around 6:00 AM. But some people can literally get there in the morning or afternoon, early afternoon, until it’s been a while to get all these synthetics and all these different things into your body. And it was great to be there with Pedro [Pascal] and Bella [Ramsey]. It was a fun time, very intense, but fun.

Woodard: With all the animals and clickers, I had already met them; That way, I got an idea of ​​what they looked like, so I wasn’t afraid of them. It was really good working with them and Lamar, Pedro and Bella. I had a lot of fun, especially with the clickers. It all went really well.

Lamar Johnson as Henry

Leanne Hencher/HBO

Deadline: Similar to episode 3, there’s this heartbreaking emotional turning point at the end of the episode where Henry has to make the devastating choice to kill his brother and then himself. Can you both talk about how you tapped into the emotion of this scene? How did you explain the ending?

Johnson: How I interpreted that scene, for me, I mean it’s the big scene, it is The Henry and Sam scene. I know the weight of that scene and the importance of that scene, especially with me knowing the game, understanding the game and being a fan of the game. So, I guess going into it, I knew what we were doing that day. I think I tried to be as present and authentic as possible because everything was given to me. I had Kevon there, I had Pedro there, I had Bella there and they were all responding and giving me everything I needed to perform. So, I try not to overthink it. I just wanted to be present and allow things to affect me, like Kevin seeing Sam’s body lying there. So, all I had to do was be present and react to everything in my environment.

Woodard: I felt very sad to read the last part. And when I was reading about it, I knew what would happen, but I got through it.

our end Airs every Sunday on HBO.

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity]

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