Warning: The article contains spoilers from HBO’s The Last Of Us.
Rutina Wesley has made her debut on HBO’s latest phenom, The Last Of Us, and admittedly had fears upon accepting her role. The Queen Sugar alum appeared on episode 6 of the drama series as Maria—the leader of a settlement where Joel (Pedro Pascal) finds his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna). Maria and Tommy are married and expecting their first child.
“It’s terrifying playing a character that’s been established, even though it’s a game,” Wesley, 44, told Entertainment Weekly. “But I also was up for the challenge of playing her in my way and putting my energy on it to see what people would think of that.”
The True Blood actress continued, “Sometimes you can do an adaptation of something and it’s a copy of a copy. Sometimes it’s not so great, but I felt here with ‘The Last of Us,’ they really have had a chance to fly with these storylines, even if they altered them a bit, because it’s human people.”
Fear aside, Wesley was also “smitten” with playing Maria when first approached.
“I loved Maria, particularly because she’s a born leader,” she explained. “She’s fierce and she has this calm stillness to her that I love. She’s the type of woman that I described like, if she smiles, you probably only see it with her eyes. She’s not gonna give you full-blown Rutina red carpet teeth. It’s great to see a woman of that kind of stature who is very good with a gun. She can ride a horse. She knows her way around this place and yet she’s taking this child and cutting their hair and getting to know them. I love the juxtaposition of that because sometimes you think people in that position as a leader are not capable of the other, and she’s very capable.”
HBO has confirmed The Last Of Us will return for a second season. Maria’s character appears in the second installment, but it hasn’t been confirmed if Wesley will return. New episodes of The Last Of Us airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.