Sam Raimi is producing the movie adaptation of Naughty Dog’s critically-acclaimed action-adventure survival horror video game, The Last Of Us, which means he’s bound to be thinking about casting right about now. Though the young female lead, Ellie, will probably have to be a newcomer, Joel – a ruthless survivor of a fungal spore-based infection that turns human into zombies – will no doubt be played by a more established actor. Here are 10 suggestions (mostly serious), for who should play the grizzled shiv swinger.
HUGH JACKMANBecause... Prisoners
In Denis Villeneuve's abduction thriller, everyone's favourite part-time mutant plays a father willing to turn to violence after his daughter is taken from him. Combine this raw parental power with the survival instincts seen in Les Mis, any X-Men movie and the press tour of Van Helsing and you've got yourself a Joel.
RUSSELL CROWEBecause... Gladiator
He's already played a father to a murdered son and husband to a murdered wife, so playing a father to a murdered daughter should be a cinch. If he were to get the Joel role, he would probably have to get his vengeance in this life rather than the next, mind.
GERARD BUTLERBecause... Nim's Island
If Abigail Breslin were the right age, she'd have been a great shout for the part of Ellie, but, alas, she's 17 years old, and Ellie is not. Fortunately, her work with Gerard Butler on kiddy flick Nim's Island may (or, more likely, may not) make Raimi and company appreciate the Tartan Spartan's die-hard daddy skills.
JOSH BROLINBecause... No Country For Old Men
Much of The Last Of Us was inspired by the Coens' new-Western thriller, including the character of Joel. No surprise, then, that when Empire suggested Brolin for the part, game co-creator Bruce Straley said: "That would be awesome. Sometimes I have that conversation with [In-game voice of Ellie] Ashley Johnson – she actually said she thought Josh Brolin wasn't vulnerable enough…"
VIGGO MORTENSENBecause... The Road
Cinema has precious few post-apocalyptic survival movies involving a middle-aged man and a young child but The Road is one of them and Strider is excellent in it. He probably won't want to play such a similar role quite so soon, but that shouldn't stop casting agents thinking of him anyway.
DYLAN MCDERMOTTBecause... American Horror Story
The biggest thing going for Gerard Butler's Olympus Has Fallen co-star is his face. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Joel, he certainly gets a pass in the looks department, and thanks to playing a petrified pater in American Horror Story, we know he can do dread.
KARL URBANBecause... Dredd
Speaking of dread, here's Dredd himself, who recently "babysat" a younger member of the human species (a telepathic Olivia Thirlby), guiding her through a kill-or-be-killed dystopian wasteland whilst grunting and/or growling. For another unlikely buddy-up from Urban, check out Almost Human (which features more androids than it does zombies).
LIAM NEESONBecause... Taken
Why? Because he's Liam Neeson, which means he deserves more than a passing mention, especially considering his daughter-saving duties in both Taken and Taken 2. His crafting capabilities also cannot be denied, as seen in The Grey, where he fashions a set of wolf-busting knuckledusters from whisky miniatures.
BRADLEY COOPERBecause... American Hustle
More specifically, his beard in American Hustle, though the less said about the hair, the better. Then there's his work in The Hangover, which should prepare him for dealing with possibly the worst morning after in the history of existence: the zombie apocalypse.
BRUCE CAMPBELLBecause... Sam Raimi
Be honest: it would be pretty groovy. Definitely worth an audition, if only because his work with zombies – sorry, deadites – is unparalleled, and we'd love to see Joel with a chainsaw.
VOTE: WHICH OF THESE ACTORS WOULD YOU LOVE TO SEE PLAY THE ROLE?
Or if it's someone else you prefer, let us know in the comment section below.