The Last of Us showrunner warns ‘terrifying’ mushroom is ‘real’

“What we’re doing in this scene is telling people that this has always been here,” Mazin said of the post-apocalyptic HBO series.

Could The Last of Us Really Predict the Apocalypse?

The series, which is definitely not a zombie series, although it features infected undead, hinges on the takeover of the parasitic Cordyceps fungus, which typically infects ants and insects. In The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name, the fungus has evolved and infects humans.

Showrunner Craig Mazin revealed that the 1968 prologue in the first episode of the HBO series explained the very real possibility of the Cordyceps fungus developing due to climate change. John Hannah plays Dr. Neuman describing the evolution of the parasite.

“What I told John [Hannah] was, ‘What we’re doing in this scene is telling people this has always been here,'” Mazin told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s real – it’s real in that whatever mushrooms do, whatever he says they do. And they are doing it now and always have. There are some remarkable documentaries that you can watch that are pretty chilling.”

While Mazin personally doesn’t believe the fungus could infect humans, hallucinatory drugs like LSD have their roots in mushrooms.

“Now his warning – what if they evolve and invade us? – Scientifically speaking, would they do to us what they do to ants? I don’t believe. I doubt it. On the other hand, he’s right – LSD and psilocybin come from mushrooms,” Mazin said.

The “Chernobyl” writer added that “The Last of Us” reflected the possibility of something “just waiting to blow up,” like the mushroom itself.

“You just don’t know. It was so annoying to tell people, ‘We knew about it, it was there, now we’re going to show you the night it finally happens,'” Mazin said. “Not suddenly, but finally.”

Mazin and series co-creator Neil Druckmann shared during a press conference that the choice of how to present the infected zombies came down to how they would be expanded in a second season.

“There will be more ‘The Last of Us,'” confirmed Mazin. “And I think the balance isn’t always just within an episode or even episode to episode, it’s season to season. It is quite possible that there will be many more infected people later, maybe other species as well. But in the episodes we focused on, I think we generally emphasized the power of relationships and tried to find meaning in moments of action. So there may be less action than some people wanted because we couldn’t necessarily find meaning for quite a bit of it. After all, you don’t play it, you watch it. And while a lot of people love to watch gameplay, when we show it on TV it needs to be a little bit more focused and purposeful.”

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