Get to know me: [4/5] video games: The Last of Us “There are a million ways we should have died before today. and a million ways we can die before tomorrow. but we fight for every second we get to spend with each other, either if its two minuets or two days, we don’t give that up. i don’t want to give that up. my vote: lets just wait it out. you know, we can be all poetic and just loose our minds together.”
There’s one scene in the game, where we see Joel, not as a ruthless survivor, but as a father. I knew from the very beginning that he was gonna lose his daughter. And I just told Neil, “When that day comes, for us to shoot that, I need a heads up. About a week before, he said, "It’s time. We’re gonna do that scene.” I was like, “Okay.” Cause I knew that I was gonna have to go to this place that you don’t really wanna go to, as an actor. You wanna find some aspect of reality that you can empathetically draw from, you know? I started recalling all these memories, and started pulling up all these feelings, and they’re just right underneath the surface.
[talking about filming the scene] I just lose my shit. I mean just completely break down emotionally. It was the first take and I felt really good about it, and Neil said, “Okay, let’s do it again.” So you do it again, and automatically you feel like you’re manufacturing […] cause you’re trying to go back to that place, and you know, you’re in that actor nightmare of trying to get back to that reality. And we go through it again, and fifth and sixth and seventh take, and I’m just exhausted. I’m crying between takes, and I’m looking at Neil going, “This is really, really hard.” And finally after the eighth or ninth take, he said, “Alright, I think we got it.” I was like, “Oh, thank God,” and I went outside and I was just jacked up for the rest of the day, just a wreck emotionally. But we got it.
Then two weeks later, he calls me. And he says, “So, we need to reshoot a scene,” and I’m like, “Cool, what scene are we doing?” And he just looks at me.
I said, “Dude, don’t do this to me."
And [finally], I’m like, "Okay, alright, you don’t think you got it? I’ll show you that you got it. We’ve got it in the can.” And so we go through it again, and it just feels fake. It feels artificial, and Neil goes, “Go through it again,” and we do it again, and I’m getting madder and madder with each take. Finally at about the fourth take, [laughs] Neil comes over to me and - I love him so much - he goes, “So I’m picking up on some resistance.” And I was like, “You’re damn right you’re picking up on some resistance! We’ve got this in the can already, and we’re just wasting our time and we’re wasting all this effort and energy.” And then he starts talking me through the scene, and he’s like “What I need you to do is, I need you to just strip yourself of all these ideas, and I need you to hit this beat, and this beat, and this beat, and this beat,” which just makes it sound so mechanical and it’s such an emotional scene. So we start going through it, and literally, I’m just mindlessly doing these things at this point.
[after filming the final take] He stops and he goes, “Now we got it.” And I realized that the reason why I wanted that first take to work was cause I wanted everyone to look at me and go, “Wow. What an actor.” And that’s not what the scene needed.This scene actually works, not because of me, but in spite of me.And that really is the mark, and the definition of working with a truly good director.
- Troy Baker on the process of filming the Prologue with Neil Druckmann