Easily one of the most-talked about titles of 2013, The Last of Us continues to rack up industry praise (read our review) as well as spoiler-filled debate over the game’s controversial ending. However, long before any players embarked on the suspense-filled cross-country journey with Joel and Ellie, we were all taken-aback by the surprising inclusion of what appeared actress Ellen Page’s likeness in the game.
According to Naughty Dog, the similarities were nothing more than a coincidence, and the studio made subtle changes to Ellie’s in-game model to further differentiate their character after the initial announcement – especially considering fellow PS3 exclusive, Beyond: Two Souls had actually cast Page as its lead. Now, the Juno actress is reflecting on the situation, with a surprisingly candid reaction to Naughty Dog’s original design.
In a Reddit AMA (ask me anything), Page opened-up to fans about everything from her favorite type of “juice” (answer: tequila) to her upcoming role in Bryan Singer’s X:Men: Days of Future Past as well as her recent foray into the video game industry. When asked about similarities between her likeness and Naughty Dog’s design for Ellie in The Last of Us, the actress offered-up a direct comment:
“I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.”
It’d be easy to read Page’s reply as frustration but the actress is known for being down-to-earth and informal in her interactions with media officials, so it’s not surprising she’d be even more candid when interacting with fans. As a result, while she uses terms like “ripped off” and claims the similarities were “not appreciated,” it’s unlikely that the actress is harboring actual animosity toward the fan-favorite Sony studio. Instead, this is probably a case where the non-descript nature of online written communication makes it easy to read into Page’s wording for tension or hostility that isn’t actually representative of her true feelings.
Instead of dwelling on The Last of Us, Page was more interested in promoting the game that she’s actually in – offering high praise for David Cage’s follow-up to Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls as well as complimenting co-star Willem Dafoe:
“Making Beyond was an incredible experience. I think what David Cage is doing is really remarkable, the first of its kind and I feel grateful to be involved.”
“We did do our own motion capture. The suits are not that bad actually… it is sort of nice to not sorry about wardrobe. Willem is an incredible actor and I loved working with him.”
Page also touched on her own experience with video games, indicating that she’s no stranger to the medium. She’s even played the recent Tomb Raider reboot:
“I played video games more when I was a kid. I had Sega Genesis and was a HUGE Sonic fan. I also love the NHL games and played them with my brother all time. Then I was super into PlayStation and loved the FIFA games. I recently played my first video game in a while. I played the latest Tomb Raider and really enjoyed it, finished in about 12 hours.”
The Ellen Page Last of Us controversy is certainly bizarre – made even weirder when it was announced she’d star in Beyond: Two Souls. We may never know the full behind-the-scenes details – as mentioned Naughty Dog never officially acknowledged any intention to cast Page for the role of Ellie or modeled the character after her likeness. Fortunately, the actual Ellie performance capture actress, Ashley Johnson, delivers in The Last of Us - presenting one of the more endearing video game characters of 2013.
Of course, PlayStation fans who were hoping to see Page announced for the role can still still look forward to seeing the well-known actress brought to digital life in Beyond: Two Souls.
The Last of Us is available now, exclusively for the PS3. Beyond: Two Souls releases on October 8, 2013 and is also a PS3 exclusive.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.