‘Last of Us’ Season 2 Was Preparing to Audition Actors With Video Game Scenes Due to Writers Strike, but Is Now on Hold (EXCLUSIVE)

“The Last of Us” Season 2 is feeling the effects of the writers’ strike.

Preparations for casting for the second season of the smash hit HBO series had been underway until earlier this week when it was put on hold, according to an individual with knowledge of the production.

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Prior to that, however, multiple sources say that the casting team was asking actors to read sides taken directly from “The Last of Us Part II,” the video game on which the second season will be based, due to the fact that there are no scripts for Season 2 at this time. The hope is for the season to begin shooting in early 2024 in Vancouver.

The lack of Season 2 scripts is by no means surprising, as series co-creator and showrunner Craig Mazin has been spotted on the picket line with his fellow Writers Guild of America (WGA) members in recent days. He is not currently doing any writing or producing work (including being involved in casting) on Season 2, in keeping with WGA strike guidelines. Likewise, Neil Druckmann, who co-created the series and served as writer and creative director on the games, is not currently working on Season 2 of the show in any capacity.

Mazin wrote the majority of the nine-episode first season of “The Last of Us,” while he and Druckmann co-wrote the series premiere and finale. Druckmann also solely wrote the seventh episode, “Left Behind.” The show debuted in January on HBO to glowing reviews and strong ratings. The season finale alone drew 8.2 million viewers, breaking the show’s own viewership record.

It was quickly renewed for a second season after just two episodes had aired, with stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey slated to return as Joel and Ellie.

Numerous productions have been impacted by the strike since it began on May 2, with major shows like “Andor” at Disney+ and “Stranger Things” at Netflix shutting down. As Variety previously reported, however, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” remains in production on its second season, as does Season 2 of Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

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