Joel met Glenn — and they had lots to talk about — in a badass zombie show crossover conversation we’re so excited happened between The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal and The Walking Dead veteran Steven Yeun.
In Variety’s latest Actors on Actors pairing, the duo discussed their shared bond as post-apocalyptic series regulars. Yeun, who starred in AMC’s The Walking Dead as the ill-fated Glenn, is no stranger to daunting and dark cliffhangers, having been a huge part of one of the most divisive ones committed to screen. The actor gave Pascal props for Joel’s similarly controversial turn at the end of season one of HBO’s The Last of Us (spoilers ahead).
“I don’t think you can pull out the performances that you’re pulled out together between you two,” Yeun said, complimenting both Pascal and co-star Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie opposite Pascal’s Joel in a clicker-infested world. At the end of The Last of Us’ first season, Joel found himself at a destination that wasn’t entirely what he signed up for. “You have to have a full range of experience to get in that last frame when [Ellie’s] looking at you to see if you’re telling the truth,” Yeun said to Pascal. “Yeah, it’s crazy — that’s a whole journey. [You] live together [and see] all of [the] shades. That’s badass.”
Pascal gave his scene partner Ramsey their props, “It was cool. I will say that I really don’t think I’ve met anybody like Bella in that I was truly sort of inspired and humbled that they brought the best out of me as a person. That is the journey that Joel goes on,” he said, praising the studio’s decision to pair them as the PlayStation video game’s found-family unit.
Yeun recounted how working in end-of-the-world scenarios just does something to a cast and crew. “I got to experience Walking Dead where the luckiest thing for me is if I had been on a show, I think especially at that time as an Asian American actor, where this show was rendered in the world we know I would have had a slot… there was a slot for me,” he explained. “But we got to experience it in a world that was completely devastated and society was broken. And so there was no rules. Our cast all the time we’d be like, ‘none of us would be friends in real life.’ In this — ”
Pascal interjected, “World that wasn’t broken…”
“Yeah, but we’re all like deeper friends now. I still I’m so deeply connected to all the people I experienced that show with,” Yeun agreed, elaborating how that supported the thrust into the spotlight so many of the The Walking Dead cast experienced, particularly Yeun; many hoped Glenn wouldn’t meet the same fate the character did in the comics before he inevitably did. “I wonder if you’re touching a similar thing with a post-apocalyptic world. You see people for people at that point.”
The Walking Dead helped pave the way for The Last of Us, which premiered not long after the long-running AMC zombie apocalypse saga aired its finale. The popularity of both shows speaks to this unconscious reckoning of society audiences can’t get enough stories about — whether they’re zombies or clickers. Pascal agreed, “There is like a crossover energy, you know, in terms of what the narrative is and like and what your brain’s relationship to the experience is because the crew, we were all just so close.”
For Yeun the experience was healing — and Pascal said that The Last of Us team feels the same way. “It really was like we all kind of fell in love. I think it was like falling in love,” he said and praised Yeun for opening the doors for performers like them. “I have to say this because I started The Walking Dead when it premiered on AMC, and I remember just noticing you and being like, ‘That guy’s a star.’ And to engage your attention in something that is such a world, it’s such a genre, and the character could have just easily worked without somebody who the camera just drinks in and is like, so charismatic. So starting there, I’ve just been kind of unsurprised and drinking it in there, there thereafter.”
Yeun in turn had nothing but the same sort of zombie brotherly love for Pascal. “I appreciate it. I don’t know if this is what it feels like for you, but the journey continues to be a self-effacing one. And I’m like, that’s kind of what I mean by your graciousness is that I don’t see judgment in your performance. I see. I see like real love in your performance,” Yeun said, and later added, “The way you approach Joel, the performance that I saw the whole time was like, to have this depth of, like, pain, guilt, shame, sadness. Everything just repressed down that you could just stand there in the frame and it goes, that says everything. And that’s a lot of internal work.”
“It’s kind of fun to have the permission to feel everything, contain it or express it.” Pascal echoed. Watch more of the love fest between the two in the video below.