The Last of Us Part 2’s Laura Bailey Talks About Her Controversial Role As Abby “I Knew That I Was Going To Get Some Hate. I Didn’t Anticipate the Extent.”
Laura Bailey opens up about her portrayal of Abby in The Last of Us Part 2.
All you have to do is mutter the words The Last of Us Part 2 and it ignites all kinds of feelings in people. While some consider it to be a masterclass in storytelling and the bee’s knees of video games, others will point out that it’s overhyped nonsense and that Naughty Dog ruined the sequel for them; strangely also said by people who haven’t even played the game. Part 2 saw a fresh-faced new character called Abby and even before some people started playing the game, they already hated this person with a passion without any backstory. Speaking with Game Informer, Laura Bailey, who voices Abby, said that playing the character in The Last of Us Part 2 was one of the most grueling roles she’s done, but also stated that it was one of the most gratifying experiences in her very long and impressive career.
However you feel about Abby Anderson, the fact still remains that Laura Bailey put every ounce of passion and dedication into the character for The Last of Us Part 2. Knowing that Abby would bring out a lot of feelings in players due to her actions, Bailey states that she didn’t expect just how much of an adverse reaction she would actually receive. “I knew that there would be backlash for sure,” Bailey told Game Informer. “I knew that I was going to get some hate. I didn’t anticipate the extent.”
Naturally, The Last of Us Part 2 leaks didn’t help the situation at all. Due to the coronavirus, the game was yet again delayed and during this time, we saw leaked gameplay footage which included Abby content as well as scenes of Ellie playing the guitar. The leaked Abby images in question saw an influx of enraged gamers in which Laura contributes to people not being able to get past the harsh impact of what they witnessed. “It was the perfect storm. I think the leaks had a lot to do with it. If your first experience with that had been in the game, and then you kept moving forward, you would have had the growth and understanding,” Bailey continues. “But the leaks came out a couple months in advance; you had months of people forming barriers and forming walls before they were able to understand Abby’s side of it, and therefore a lot of people never were able to.”
Aside from the disgusting deaths threats and abuse Laura sustained, she still believes that her portrayal of Abby was one of the most fulfilling and noteworthy characters she has played throughout her long and successful career. “It was [a] difficult [role], but I think it’s an incredible story, and I think Abby is, man, just one of the most amazing characters that I’ve ever played.”
On the flip side of the coin, Bailey can also empathize with players on their initial loathing of Abby as she also had trouble coming to terms with Abby’s actions throughout the game herself and even struggled with wondering how she was cast for the role “I knew the story; I knew what I was getting into, and when it hit ‘Day One’ with Abby, I still didn’t like Abby,” Bailey says. “I didn’t like my performance. I didn’t like the character. I remember playing for like three hours into ‘Day One’ as Abby and talking to [my husband], Travis, and being like, ‘I don’t like what I did. I’m not good. This is terrible. I don’t know how I was cast. All of these years of work is for nothing.’ And Travis is like, ‘Just shut up, go back, and keep playing because you are obviously very biased right now.’ And as I continued to play, then I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I just had to acclimate to myself because I didn’t like me. I didn’t like Abby.’ You’re not supposed to, you know.”
If, like the rest of us who played the game, you felt completely overwhelmed with emotions and maybe wanted to hide inside a dark room for a few weeks, you’re not alone. Bailey goes on to talk about how difficult it was for her to shake Abby’s persona after leaving the studio “Just the story alone with where we had to take the characters and what they had to go through was … it was just a lot,” Bailey says. “It’s really hard after shooting scenes that are very heavy on loss and grief to shake it off at the end of the day and just go home. Those emotions stay with you.”
Thankfully, The Last of Us Part 2 did have some happier moments like the Joel and Ellie museum scene but one of Bailey’s favorite moments was of her relationship with Lev and Yara. “It felt like you were on a different project on those days because it was joyful,” she says. “I think the game obviously needs those joyful moments. It really felt like I had a little brother and sister on set that I really wanted to just take care of. They’re both so sweet.”
For those who haven’t dove head-on into the franchise yet and would like to know more about this iconic game, our Editor in Chief, Ryan, put together a guide of everything you need to know about The Last of Us. The Last of Us Part 2 is available exclusively on PS4 (and soon to be PS5). The game was one of DualShockers’ favorites of 2020; make sure to check out the official DualShockers (generally spoiler-free) review. Also, feel free to grab the game physically on Amazon to help support the site.