Matthew McConaughey Almost Played Pedro Pascals Role on The Last of Us

Matthew McConaughey and Pedro Pascal
Matt Baron/Shutterstock; Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

It’s hard to imagine The Last of Us without Pedro Pascal, but cocreator Craig Mazin revealed that there was another contender for the role of Joel — Matthew McConaughey.

The Oscar winner, 53, was rumored as a possible candidate before Pascal, 48, landed the role in 2021. Mazin, 52, confirmed the speculation during a recent interview on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast.

“I did talk to Matthew,” Mazin recalled. “I can’t say that it was a series [of conversations]. It was more of like, ‘Hey! Here’s something to talk about.’”

Matthew McConaughey Almost Played Pedro Pascals Role on The Last of Us

Craig Mazin at ‘The Last of Us’ FYC Event
Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Mazin also addressed past rumors that Mahershala Ali was also considered for the HBO drama’s lead, saying, “I actually never talked to Mahershala.”

According to Mazin, he and cocreator Neil Druckmann — who wrote the video game on which the show is based — were always interested in Pascal, but he wasn’t initially available to film another TV show. Pascal currently stars as the titular character on The Mandalorian, and his film roster is usually pretty full.

“Pedro was on our list from the start. We were told that he was unavailable,” Mazin explained. “And then as we were floundering about a little bit, I got a call from his agent who said, ‘You know, he actually might be available.’”

Pascal and costar Bella Ramsey were officially confirmed to play Joel and Ellie, respectively, in February 2021. Fans finally got to see their performances nearly two years later when The Last of Us premiered in January, becoming HBO’s second-largest debut ever. The network renewed the series for season 2 less than two weeks after the premiere.

While Mazin was certain Pascal was the right choice for Joel, the actor admitted earlier this year that he was initially nervous to accept the part. “It became very, very clear very quickly how much people loved the game and the experience of playing the game,” Pascal told Entertainment Tonight in January. “That was scary because you can get really into a book. You can get really into a series. And this is the next level of getting into an immersive experience of playing these characters.”

Though he knows fans of the game are eagerly awaiting to see how the show adapts the story, Pascal himself hasn’t played. “It’s so sad, I haven’t any skill. I tried, you know,” he confessed to British GQ in April 2022. “And then it was only a matter of minutes before I had to hand it over to my nephew. It really takes a specific kind of skill, and I don’t have it.”