Many fans of HBO’s The Last of Us are raving about Nico Parker, the 18-year-old actor who plays Joel Miller’s (Pedro Pascal) daughter. In just a 40-minute time span, Parker got viewers attached to her character de ella and broke their hearts with one of the video game’s most devastating scenes. In addition to praising her work, fans are noticing that Parker looks familiar. Here’s what else she’s been in and a closer look at her mother, fellow actor Thandiwe Newton.
[Spoiler alert: The first section of this story contains spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 1.]
What happens to Sarah in ‘The Last of Us’?
The Last of Us begins with a glimpse at Outbreak Day when the Cordyceps brain infection reaches critical mass. It starts as a normal day in Austin, Texas, but Sarah notices strange behavior from people in the town and an increase in police activity. That night, she wakes up to helicopters flying overhead and explosions. She heads to her elderly neighbor’s house, where an infected Mrs. Adler has attacked her husband.
Mrs. Adler chases Sarah out of the house, but Joel and his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), arrive and kill her. They flee the neighborhood in their truck and attempt to make it out of the city, but everywhere is in chaos. A plane crash sends debris through the truck and knocks it over, injuring Sarah’s ankle. Joel carries her to safety in a field, but they’re stopped by a soldier. The soldier is ordered to shoot the father and daughter in case they’re infected.
Joel dodges the bullets and tumbles to the ground. The soldier takes aim at him again, but Tommy arrives and kills him. Unfortunately, Sarah had already been hit. She dies in Joel’s arms.
Fans might recognize ‘The Last of Us’ star Nico Parker as Thandiwe Newton’s daughter
So, who is the actor behind Sarah? Nico Parker is still relatively new to the acting world, with only a few credits under her belt. Her breakout role of her (and her first role of her) was Milly in 2019’s live-action Dumbo. Parker then appeared in a few episodes of The Third Day and the film reminiscence.
Fans might recognize Parker because she’s the spitting image of her mother, Thandiwe Norton. Norton is most known for her roles in Westworld, The Pursuit of Happyness, Big Mouth, Mission: Impossible IIand crash. She even appeared alongside Parker in reminiscence.
Parker’s father, Ol Parker, is also in the business, albeit on the other side of the camera. He is a writer and director known for Now Is Good, Ticket to Paradiseand Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Nico Parker responded to criticism about her casting in ‘The Last of Us’
When Parker first landed the role of Sarah, some members of The Last of Us fandom were unhappy because Sarah and her father are portrayed as white in the game. Parker responded to the negativity in a recent interview with Yahoo! Entertainment.
“I hope they can look past it and still enjoy the show,” Parker said. “But I think inclusivity is incredibly important. If young kids watch the show and feel they’re represented through race or hair or anything, that’s 10 times more important than anyone who doesn’t like it because they don’t like to see different people on their screen.”
Thankfully, many viewers had only wonderful things to say about Parker during The Last of Us premiere.
“The Last of Us is perfectly casted so far but Nico Parker’s performance as Sarah was phenomenal. THAT scene broke me,” one fan tweeted.
“Shoutout to Nico Parker’s acting, ’cause she was phenomenal. With Gabriel, Pedro, and Nico putting in such incredible performances, and some stunning camera work, the strong opening really set the tone for the rest of the episode. The whole cast is incredible,” another user wrote.
New episodes of The Last of Us drop every Sunday at 9 pm ET on HBO and HBO Max. Check out the full release schedule for more details.