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The Birth of Ellie: ‘The Last of Us’ Used 12-Day-Old Twins and a 30-Pound Pregnant Belly in Finale’s Opening Scene
Jordan Moreau SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of “The Last of Us,” now streaming on HBO Max. The world of “The Last of Us” just got its first major clue as to how Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey in HBO’s hit adaptation, became immune to the deadly cordyceps fungus. And, in a poetic, full-circle moment, the finale brought back actor Ashley Johnson, who originally starred as Ellie in “The Last of Us” video game, to play Ellie’s mother, Anna. The Season 1 finale opened with a flashback to Ellie’s birth — which had never been seen in the 2013 video game nor its 2021 sequel. Before Sunday night’s episode, there were no confirmed details about how Ellie became immune to cordyceps, and Anna had never appeared onscreen. In the episode’s surprise opening sequence, the season finale revealed that Anna was bitten by an infected person moments before giving birth to Ellie. Anna kills the assailant before cutting the umbilical cord, but those moments of connection may have created within Ellie a “chemical messenger” that “makes normal cordyeps think she’s cordyceps,” as Marlene (Merle Dandridge) later explains in the episode. (Dandridge is the only actor in “The Last of Us” who plays the same character that she did in the game.)