The Final of Us: HBO’s Merle Dandridge Goes Deep on Marlene as She Breaks Down the Season Finale

Spoiler alert: This interview accommodates elephantine spoilers for both HBO’s The Final of Us Season 1, including the finale, and The Final of Us sport.

Merle Dandridge doesn’t be acutely conscious precisely when she stumbled on out she’d be reprising the phase of Marlene in HBO’s adaptation of Naughty Dogs’s beloved The Final of Us, in which she originated the characteristic of the Firefly leader nearly ten years ago – but she does be acutely conscious pondering, “what’s this, Christmas?”

“It be a character that I even luxuriate in beloved for an extraordinarily lengthy time,” Dandridge says, adding that she’s been “emotionally connected” to Marlene. “In negate to bring this character – who is, truthfully, establish in this type of unsuitable put in her lifetime of tall loss and a lifetime of unpleasant picks for the sake of the larger factual – to be ready to bring that to a plot network indulge in HBO turned into once an honor and a thrill.”

Dandridge, too, is something of an outlier on HBO’s The Final of Us. Whereas sport actors indulge in Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson luxuriate in returned for roles in the hit sequence, Dandridge is the handiest one to reprise her loyal characteristic from the game. Dandridge acknowledges that it took the “stars aligning” for that predicament to happen, from her maturing into the characteristic bodily to the mere part of her being on hand for manufacturing.

“And these artists that I respect so distinguished notion I turned into once essentially the most efficient particular person for the job,” she provides. “Hello, that is awesome.”

And the implications of the adaptation discuss for themselves; The Final of Us has been warmly obtained by audiences and critics alike, with IGN giving Season 1 a 9/10 and viewership numbers climbing vastly from the premiere.

In a lengthy conversation with IGN, Dandridge went deep referring to the finale, reuniting with Johnson, revisiting particular scenes from the game, and the procedure in which a long way she’s long previous into Marlene’s psyche.

Marlene and Anna

The Final of Us Season 1 has made several deviations from the game – from changing spores with tendrils to devoting an total episode to Invoice and Frank – and the finale begins with one other one: exhibiting Anna for the predominant time. As avid gamers of the game know, Anna is no longer any longer handiest Ellie’s mother, but Marlene’s lifelong buddy, and outdated to the demonstrate, the principle points of their friendship were handiest published thru the game’s journal entries and recordings.

Nevertheless, besides exhibiting Marlene and Anna if truth be told interacting for the predominant time, it turned into once predominant for one other cause: as Johnson, who performed Ellie in the game, turned into once taking half in Anna, it marked the reunion of two valuable sport actors.

After I point this out to Dandridge, she smiles and says, “all of my hairs factual stood up in the event you stated that.”

“The procedure in which that we met turned into once thru the tenderness of the Marlene and Ellie bond,” she goes on, referencing her work with Johnson on the 2013 sport. “I factual deem it be so gorgeous that we can revisit why that relationship manner so distinguished on this fashion of Merle and Ashley attending to play this out.”

Nevertheless that scene isn’t factual referring to the sentimentality between two actors, she notes: “The alarm of the loss of Anna is key to who Marlene is, in the circumstances below which we meet her and why she’s so bolt-or-die connected to Ellie.”

Seeing that play out in the demonstrate, Dandridge says, affords the viewers valuable context as to why Marlene is the sort she is, and the procedure in which distinguished emotional turmoil she had to overcome in expose to acquire to where we bag her in the finale.

When she says to Joel, ‘I create acquire it. I create comprehend it,’ it be no longer factual lip service,

“Taking such meticulous care of Ellie is no longer any longer factual rote,” Dandridge says. “It is no longer factual something a soldier is doing. It is passionately, deeply connected to her coronary heart or what’s left of her coronary heart. And to grab that – to grab what she’s sacrificed, and the procedure in which lengthy she has watched over this child – makes the picks that she is being compelled into now so procedure more painful and valuable.”

“So when she says it to Joel, ‘I create acquire it. I create comprehend it,’ it be no longer factual lip service,” she goes on. “The viewers can if truth be told feel it with her too. And so factual for me to be ready to work out just a few of those items of Marlene that luxuriate in handiest existed in my creativeness, that turned into once interesting. To create it with an oldschool buddy, even better. After which to acquire the viewers’s deep inherent notion of what she affords up to book this rebellion, to book this cause, to present folks hope, affords an even bigger notion, elephantine-360 holistic take a look at of what this girl has been up against for goodbye.”

Talking of creativeness, Dandridge and I discuss a bit bit referring to the mystery of Anna and Marlene’s friendship. Even now, we quiet don’t know how the 2 met, most of what they went thru together, or distinguished previous the proven truth that they’ve been mates their “entire lives.” So, Dandridge admits, useless to claim she’s tried to maintain in just some of the blanks in her score solutions in her pursuit to invent out this character.

Nevertheless Marlene’s relationship with Anna, Dandridge notes, also has loads to create with her relationship with Joel. She, too, has had to present sophisticated picks “that incorporated at point-clean-vary killing and shooting the remainder tether onto my archaic existence, my most efficient buddy.”

“Marlene is attempting to establish with him on a coronary heart stage with empathy and notion of his bother, and there is so distinguished in that,” she says. “I acquire it. I realize what goes on.”

Marlene and Joel

One scene that does raise over from the game to the demonstrate is one particularly demanding one. After Joel and Ellie indirectly produce it to the Firefly clinic, they’re separated as Ellie will get prepped for surgical draw. Joel’s met by Marlene as she explains the circumstances to him: that there’s a factual likelihood Ellie will most definitely be extinct to attend produce a vaccine but, attributable to the cordyceps virus is in her brain, she wouldn’t are living thru the surgical draw.

The scene (which will most definitely be the one Dandridge turned into once given to audition for the game) isn’t somewhat note-for-note pulled from the customary source, but it undoubtedly’s moderately shut. Nonetheless, that didn’t imply it turned into once all Deja Vu for her.

“I had to manner it with entirely recent eyes,” she unearths. “I if truth be told had to neglect what I knew about that scene.”

“This one turned into once so assorted to me for a myriad of causes,” she says. “First, her arguments are a bit assorted. She will get into the principle points of the science. She tells him a bit bit more about it. And there is also a obvious form of acquire to the backside of, moderately than factual giving him a bit bit of home in that scene to present that choice. To present him room to luxuriate in some notion is something that she would no longer essentially luxuriate in time for or luxuriate in to create, but she wants that for him. She wants his have interaction-in.”

“Whether or no longer the discontinuance end result looked to luxuriate in echoes of similarity, it turned into once an extraordinarily assorted manner,” she provides. “And possibly that is attributable to of the circumstances, and being opposite Pedro [Pascal] on this unbelievably dank environment that they’d demonstrate on this corner of this clinic, and also [my] years of trip around it, and a obvious script. The shifts in how she approaches him on this conversation are so refined, but so predominant in their disagreement. So yeah, it turned into once an extraordinarily assorted scene for me.”

Nevertheless folks that’ve watched the finale know the discontinuance end result is the identical the total while: Joel kills the total Fireflies in the clinic, as smartly as Marlene after she confronts him (an especially “intense” scene to shoot, Dandridge acknowledges), and later lies to Ellie referring to the total ordeal.

Having had 10 years to deem of the divisive discontinuance of The Final of Us Portion 1, Dandridge – indulge in so many followers – is torn on Joel’s actions.

“On every occasion I deem about Joel’s choice, I even luxuriate in to luxuriate in interaction a step outdoor of Marlene, for evident causes, but to take into consideration at him with empathy that he is battling for this one half of healing and esteem that he has, and that he has, as a now guardian opt, chosen to present protection to his child at all charges,” she says. “Who can argue with that?”

“And yet,” she caveats, “there is one other argument out there, if we deem referring to the sacrifices that Marlene has continuously had to present. And I indulge in that we acquire a possibility to more deeply realize her sacrifices, when we encounter her flashback and her having to claim goodbye to the remainder vestige of her existence sooner than and who she turned into once, that we’ve more empathy and notion for what she has given up to bring folks hope, to book them accurate into a presumably original future, previous this unpleasant apocalypse.”

Within the discontinuance, Dandridge is caught on the topic: “Who is gleaming? Who is defective?”

Marlene and Merle

Dandridge acknowledges that her slither with Marlene has been a “irregular trip,” to claim the least – no longer handiest in getting cast for the game and watching it turn accurate into a success, but to be equipped the uncommon replacement to approach relieve to it nearly 10 years later.

Having carried this character with her for practically a decade, Dandridge admits the evident: she’s no longer the identical particular person she turned into once when she first performed Marlene, but that’s trip she would possibly perchance even establish into the characteristic.

“I completely luxuriate in more confidence in my craft and my notion of who Marlene is, but also the wisdom to liberate what I believed Marlene turned into once,” she says. “I deem, especially with something that you just esteem so distinguished, that you just would be able to perchance even change into too precious with it. And when particular scenes or moments in the myth luxuriate in change into such canon that they luxuriate in got practically been immortalized, to be ready to spoil that notion and solution to it with recent spirit and affords over to the discomfort of being in the dwelling – carrying the clothes and honoring her in an extraordinarily assorted procedure – to be cosy in the discomfort turned into once factual.”

All of those formulation, Dandridge hopes, “brought an very fair correct looking out offering in who Marlene is now on this world.”

Nevertheless, since she returned once, is there a likelihood Dandridge would possibly perchance even return in The Final of Us again, given that it’s been renewed for a 2nd season that can (no longer no longer up to originate to) uncover the myth of The Final of Us Portion II? Whereas it’s gleaming that Marlene’s been killed, Dandridge ideas out that Portion II does prefer in non-linear storytelling, and she did return for that sport in flashbacks.

Dandridge, nevertheless, says she hasn’t heard the leisure about Season 2 somewhat yet, adding that showrunner Craig Mazin and sport creator Neil Druckmann are “doubtlessly stewing in the lab about it gleaming now.”

“I leave that up to them,” she concedes. “And I’m excited to behold what they devise, and cheering from no matter vantage point for their success.”

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