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Interview: ‘The Last of Us’ Star Storm Reid On What Ellie and Riley Meant To Each Other

What surprised many viewers of HBO’s The Last of Us was not the terrifying moments of horror, instead, it was the moments of heart. Sprinkled throughout the series were individual episodes which expanded the emotional scope of the series, allowing it to take hold of the viewers in ways never expected of ‘zombie’ series.

The first instance of this was the story of Bill and Frank (Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett) in episode 3 – a love story in the middle of chaos. It was a heartwarming and gut wrenching episode, but not the only one. Later in the season, just when viewers may have let their guard down thinking they were past all the heartache, show runner Craig Mazin finds a way to raise then crush our spirits yet again.

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

Episode seven titled “Left Behind” after the video game’s DLC (downloadable content) of the same name, is essentially a first date in an abandoned shopping mall. It is a brief escape from the post-apocalyptic world where Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and her bestie Riley (Storm Reid) explore all the joys of being young; laughter, video games, a carousel rider, some puns, and the chance to just being kids for once – all while silently sorting through their feelings for each other.

If you have not watched yet, I will allow you to experience it for yourself, while mentioning the stellar work of Reid whose brief one episode appearance makes a permanent impact on the viewers and Ellie, whose backstory is finally told. Reid’s performance is a standout, covering a great deal of emotional terrain with Riley while providing deeper insights into who the typically-guarded Ellie is.

Storm Reid sat down with Awards Radar to discuss her emotional, revealing performance on the series. Below are some excerpt followed but the complete video interview with the very charming, Storm Reid:

On the similarities between her and Riley:

“I think what drew me to Riley is she’s very strong willed and she’s gonna fight for what she believes in. She’s not one to cower down to ideas that she doesn’t think are right or she doesn’t try to conform to what society thinks you shouldn’t be doing or saying or feeling. I think I’m in similar in that way. Of course, we have different circumstances and I’m not living in a post apocalyptic world, so our views are a little different. But I think the basis of who we are as people of loving who you love fighting for what you believe in and taking risks, I think are similarities.”

Following up on their similarities, when asked if she calls people “fascist d*ckbags”:

“I don’t. I might try to use a more eloquent way of saying that but I will definitely get my my point across, just like Riley.”

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

On what Ellie and Riley meant to each other:

“I think Ellie and Riley mean everything to each other. They’re best friends. I know we don’t see them like living together or sharing a room they once did. They were each other’s only friends, really. So for that, in such a beautiful moment where everything feels like it’s going right, for it to take a left, I feel like both of them, they processed it differently, as we saw. The gravity of that was very, very, very heavy for both of them. The fact that Ellie has to go on and move on, day by day well, while also continuing to be reminded of Riley and what happened to Riley and kind of seeing it play out in different scenarios. I think can’t be easy, but it was a little less taunting for Riley because Riley is very realistic. She knew that this could happen. Of course, she didn’t want it to happen in this moment, but she was like, at the end of the day, it happens to all of us. So it just depends on what time it is. I think they did an amazing job of depicting that and depicting their relationship, not only in that moment, but the entire episode.”

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

On her reaction to watching her episode:

“I did tear up a little bit I wasn’t expecting to but I think I was just so overwhelmed with emotions. I was just so grateful. And I had my team had thrown me a little you know, watch party get together. So I had a lot of my loved ones and my friends and my team, you know, my peers watching it. So I don’t typically love enjoy watching myself. But that was the most comfortable I felt. Because I think I just I really just enjoyed every moment of it. And it was just beautiful for me to get to share that moment with the with people that I love. So it was an emotional.”

The Last of Us season one is now streaming in its entirety exclusively on Max.


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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