'The Last Of Us' Cast & Crew Open Up About The Reality Of Filming In Alberta

From some difficult weather to the "perfect" filming locations!

Calgary Staff Writer
Some of The Last Of Us cast in Canmore. Right: Anna Torv at the Alberta Legislature building.

Some of The Last Of Us cast in Canmore. Right: Anna Torv at the Alberta Legislature building.

Liane Hentscher | HBO

Following the final episode of this season of The Last Of Us, and in a documentary into the making of the hit series, members of the cast and crew got real about the highlights and challenges when shooting in Alberta and it definitely wasn't plain sailing.

The show's star Pedro Pascal has talked about how Alberta's stunning natural scenery played a huge role in the show and you can see how much work went into building some of the impressive sets in the documentary.

Filming took the crew across the province from Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore, Grande Prairie, High River, and Fort Macleod among other spots.

Anna Torv, who plays Tess, said the sets had been "incredible." "Everything is like magic," she noted.

While Alberta can usually be relied upon to have a healthy dose of snow through the winter, the weather opted to play a cruel joke on crews while they were in the province.

Joel Whist, SPFX supervisor, said they'd chosen the town of Waterton for one episode because it's known to have a lot of snow and when they arrived to get the location ready, "there was no snow."

"I had to use whatever [snow] was in town. So in three days, we did 350 dump trucks of snow, shovelling, brooming, raking and snowblowers to cover 10 city blocks. That night, it snowed," he said.

Luckily, not every location needed as much work to get it right.

Matt Palmer, one of the show's location managers talked about how the team had lucked out in finding the perfect cul-de-sac for a huge action sequence in Okotoks.

"It's actually a bit freaky in terms of how perfect it fits within the visuals within the game. When we scouted, it was exactly what we wanted. We had extreme winds where literally you almost couldn't stand up," he said.

Another beloved set used was the mall featured in episode seven and crews were able to use Northland Mall in Calgary, a mall that was due to be torn down.

"There's plants everywhere. There's algae, it's just a mess," one of the show's stars Bella Ramsey said while walking through the destroyed food court.

"This location has been perfect to shoot because they're gonna tear down this mall anyway. So that's given the amazing art department like free rein to completely destroy it and make it their own."

Another spot that turned out to be pretty much perfect was an abandoned estate in High River where the crew was able to build an entire town for episode three.

Jason Nolan, another location manager, said: "Bill's town, the way it was written was very particular. The action involved and the look of the town and feel of the town. I had in the back of my mind that this location existed after the floods in High River in 2013... They had to tear all the homes down and what was left was all the streets and the sidewalks and the infrastructure."

The challenges of filming and battling against the elements doesn't seem to have dampened the cast's enthusiasm for coming back to Alberta though.

"There was a day of shooting and we were out in the elements. There was snow everywhere. We were on the side of a mountain and it was really cold and there was a trek through the snow and three or four house-size wind machines," Pascal explained.

"I loved it. I love it. I want to go back," he added.

Fingers crossed for a return to Alberta in the near future!

Charlie Hart
Calgary Staff Writer
Charlie Hart is a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada's Western Desk focused on Alberta news and is based in Calgary, Alberta.
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