Our Flag Means Death Star Was the First Choice for Bill in The Last of Us

Our Flag Means Death Star Was the First Choice for Bill in The Last of Us
Image credit: HBO

The Last of Us is proving to be far more than just a worthy video game adaptation. It is an excellent series that is holding its ground solidly.

Comparisons to the similar show The Walking Dead are inevitable, and so far all the reactions have been positive. Fans suggest that TLoU is at least on par with TWD, which is no easy task. Credit for the brilliance of the show is given to more than just the source material, though they did have some impressive stuff to work with. Also deserving of praise are the writers and the wonderful cast.

But did you know that one of the most amazing characters so far is not being portrayed by the original choice for the role? The character we are speaking of is Bill, the grizzled survivor who has been introduced in episode 3. Nick Offerman, whom you may recall from the very different role he played on Parks and Recreation, does a wonderful job as Bill, and it is already hard to imagine anyone else in his place.

Would you believe that the producers' first choice for Bill was Con O'Neill, of Chernobyl fame? Squint and you can almost see it, but it feels like Offerman is somehow just a far better fit. As it turned out, O'Neill was not able to accept the role of Bill due to his commitment to Our Flag Means Death.

Our Flag Means Death Star Was the First Choice for Bill in The Last of Us - image 1

O'Neill plays Israel (Izzy) Hands, the second in command to Taika Waititi 's Blackbeard. Another very different role to that of Bill in TLoU, but there is no denying that O'Neill and Offerman are both incredible performers.

TLoU creators have admitted that O'Neill was such a strong contender, in the beginning, because he was a middle-aged gay man, just like Bill.

"We were very motivated to cast gay actors. […] This wasn't a new concept that Bill was gay, that's in the game," the showrunner Craig Mazin said on the official The Last of Us podcast. "But when you're casting people now, you know, you try as best you can to cast actors that are representative of the characters they're playing in some important way or another. Initially the role of Bill was gonna be played by Con O'Neill […] and he wasn't able. Ultimately he couldn't do it because he was on 'Our Flag Means Death.'"

And Offerman is straight (having been married to Megan Mullaly since 2003), he was instructed by series creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann to ensure he "did his homework" for this role.

Fortune was on their side, as they revealed during the official TLoU podcast, there were several gay middle-aged men on set that could act as consultants for the role. Offerman and Mazin were able to lean on their wisdom and experience to bring Bill to life and create a truly three-dimensional character.

They knew Bill's story needed to be romantic, realistic, emotional, and detailed. It had to be a believable performance for their entire audience. They wanted to ensure that viewers felt what Bill felt. And it is more than safe to say, they have absolutely pulled that off and Offerman has done a wonderful job.