HBO's The Last Of Us Series Introduces A New Original Character

HBO is bringing the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world of "The Last of Us" to life, with plenty of people coming along for the ride. Production on this video game adaptation is well underway, with details remaining pretty tight (sans a few sneak peeks here and there), but every now and then, we get news of another cast member added to the team. 

For fans of the original game, it's always exciting to put a new face to a beloved character — unless the character happens to be new, too. The latest development sees Natasha Mumba (pictured above in "The Handmaid's Tale") taking on the role of Kim Tembo, a new character created solely for the series. Earlier this week, Mumba confirmed her involvement via Instagram.

So far, zero details about this original character have been revealed, so there's no telling when she'll encounter lead duo Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey). As game players surely know, meeting new people doesn't always go great for these two, so Kim could easily land on either side of the friend or foe line.

The upcoming series tells the story of a world overrun by zombified humans who have been infected by a mutated fungus, which causes the world to collapse into full-fledged apocalypse territory. Hardened survivor Joel is just trying to get by, but his life becomes particularly complicated when he's hired to smuggle a teenage girl across the country. Unbeknownst to them, Ellie may hold the key to saving the world from the infection. Along the way, they're joined by allies, friends, and foes, with the series plucking many of its characters directly from the game. Even so, the mysterious Kim Tembo isn't the first new character invented for the sake of the HBO adaptation.

Jeffrey Pierce, who provided the in-game voice of Joel's brother, Tommy, is set to appear in a newly-created role. His character, Perry, is a rebel in a quarantine zone, and Pierce has teased that he "has huge implications for things that did occur in the game." Also appearing in a new role is "Friday Night Lights" alum Brad Leland, as a character named Mr. Adler. All three were likely created for similar reasons: to help flesh out important points in the story with actual characters to build on the narrative. Fans of the game are naturally a little wary of major changes and new characters, but it's an inevitable part of the adaptation process.

The Last of Us Game to Series Changes

Video game fans are well attuned to how poorly adaptations can go by now, whether destined for big or small screen audiences. But in this case, it helps that "The Last of Us" game creator Neil Druckmann is also serving as a writer and executive producer on the HBO series. Since development began, Druckmann has done his best to allay these fears, saying that changes will be part of the adaptation process, but are all for the sake of enhancing the material rather than erasing it:

"For example, in the game, there's so much action you have to have to train the player about mechanics. You have to have more violence and more spectacle to some degree than you would need on a TV show because you don't need to train people on how to use a gun. So that's something that's been really different, and HBO's been great in pushing us to move away from hardcore action and focus more on the drama of the character. Some of my favorite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can't wait for people to see them."

He's also backed by co-creator and co-writer of the series, Craig Mazin, who added, "we're creating anew and we're also reimagining what is already there to present a different format."

The 10-episode season grants us extra time to dig into Ellie and Joel's character, and flesh out their post-apocalyptic reality. Action will certainly remain part of the equation (our Clicker-killing duo have infected to take down and monstrous people to survive), but the games are also packed with hidden details and hints at the past, which we'll get to enjoy with even more depth.

"The Last of Us" doesn't yet have a release date set, but is expected to premiere on HBO some time in 2022.