Bella Ramsey, who plays the ever-headstrong Ellie in HBO’s upcoming The Last of Us adaptation, has revealed that the show’s producers requested that she not play the game before filming began. In the spirit of Ellie herself, though, Ramsey didn’t play entirely by the rules.

Speaking to USA Today, Ramsey stated that she skirted the line by watching some of the game on YouTube. “I was actually encouraged not to [play the game],” she said. “After my first audition, they asked me, ‘Have you played it?’ And I said, ‘Nope,’ and they said, ‘Keep it that way.’ I did watch some of the gameplay on YouTube just to get a sense of it.”

Ramsey also shared a memorable moment that occured between her and co-star Pedro Pascal, who portrays The Last of Us’s other main character, Joel.

“But I’m so excited for it to come out,” she said. “It was such a big part of my life. I shot for a whole year, which is quite a long time when you’ve only lived for 19 years. Pedro wrote a little card to me at the end, saying, ‘How interesting that something so huge and life-changing should happen so early in your life and so late in mine.’ I thought it was a really sweet observation and I just had the best time.”

Ramsey rose to popularity after her portrayal of fan-favorite Game of Thrones character Lyanna Mormont, proving that her young age had no impact on her ability to play strong, fierce characters. This seems to have made her a natural fit for Ellie – a character known for her tenacity – and by the looks of the recent teaser trailer for The Last of Us, she’s likely already got it in the bag.

The Last of Us show will largely follow Naughty Dog’s original game, following Joel and Ellie on a mission across a post-apocalyptic US to deliver her to a group who want to study her immunity to a deadly virus in an attempt to cure it. If you want to catch up on the story before the TV adaptation, there’s never been a better time than now, thanks to the recent remake of the game for PS5.

We’ll see if the show can match the same heights as the beloved game when The Last of Us airs on HBO in early 2023.

Billy Givens is a freelancer at IGN with over a decade of experience writing gaming, film, and tech content. His work can also be found on GameSpot, USA Today, Digital Trends, Tom’s Guide, and more. You’ll find him blabbering on about video games and more on Twitter at @mektige.

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