HBO’s The Last of Us series saw its first episode air this past weekend, introducing the world to the live-action counterparts of some very iconic characters. One such actor, Gabriel Luna, spoke about how he went about getting into his character.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Luna — who plays Tommy in the series — was asked how much he relied on the performance of Jeffrey Pierce (who played Tommy in the game) for his own interpretation. According to Luna, he did actually play the game and try to look at the character as more of a real person to study.

“I felt it was important to play through it and get a true sense of what Jeffrey Pierce had done with Tommy’s voice and performance capture in the games,” said Luna. “So as I played through it and familiarized myself with Tommy, it became more and more evident that we were in the same channel, energy wise, historically and culturally. There were a lot of similarities there. After Craig and Neil watched my tape, they told me that they saw the soul of Tommy, and I started to understand what they were saying as I was being introduced to Tommy. That said, knowing the place where he was born and raised, it felt pretty natural to play him.”

“What’s interesting is we talk about him like he’s a real person,” continued Luna. “Having been created 10 years ago, he has a history with the fans and a place in the gaming space, character wise. So you approach it somewhat like a biopic about a person that exists in life. I tried to absorb what I believed to be important and what the gamers are going to hope for in a true translation of the game.”

Luna also mentioned that, since both are technically from Austin, Texas, he was able to get even more into the character that way.

“Of course, you also have to live in the moment with all of the varying changes in the story that we incorporated into our version. You have to respond to those as naturally and as honestly as possible, so the character will naturally be different due to the new circumstance. But Tommy’s from Austin. I’m from Austin. The character and I were simpatico throughout,” Luna said.

Joining Luna in the series are Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, Nico Parker (Dumbo) as Joel’s daughter Sarah, Anna Torv (Mindhunter) as Tess, and Merle Dandridge (The Flight Attendant) as she reprises her role from the video games as Marlene, the leader of a resistance group known as the Fireflies. It also features Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch) as Perry, Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) as Frank, Con O’Neill (Chernobyl) as Bill, and Storm Reid (Euphoria) as Riley.

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