Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first episode of “The Last of Us.”
In “The Last of Us,” an anticipated new HBO show, adapted from the popular video game of the same name, Sarah Miller (played by 18-year-old Nico Parker) is our tour guide to the last normal day on Earth.
Episode One of the series captures the sweet, easy dynamic between Miller and her father, Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal). It’s his birthday, and she wakes up early to make him breakfast. When she falls asleep watching a movie, he tucks her into bed. Neither knows it’s their last time doing all of this.
Within hours, Sarah becomes our eyes into the zombie apocalypse, brought on by a rapidly spreading brain fungus.
Sarah is a scream queen, in that she’s an ordinary girl who finds herself in an increasingly terrifying environment. But she’s not a final girl. For anyone who played “The Last of Us,” the bestselling PlayStation series that the HBO show is inspired by, the next twist in Sarah’s life won’t come as a surprise.
Parker, who made her acting debut in “Dumbo” at the age of 12, tells TODAY.com she knew that the show would be heartbreaking and exhilarating because the game was “wonderful.”
“When I was younger, I would watch people play the game and I always cried,” Parker adds. “I don’t remember one time that I watched it and I didn’t cry.”
As a fan of the video game, Parker tells TODAY.com she was excited to land the role — even though it was a heartbreaker.
Parker’s character doesn’t last long in the post-apocalyptic series. After most of the residents in her hometown starts changing from the virus, she tries to flee with her father and uncle Tommy (Gabriel Luna) in the middle of the chaos, dodging crowds and zombies.
But when she twists her ankle after their truck flips, her chances of surviving become slimmer. Joel tries his best to carry his daughter to safety. Danger ultimately comes not in the form of zombies, but in a man carrying out orders: An American soldier shoots at them, killing Sarah and changing Joel forever.
Parker says that she didn’t mind dying in the series — in fact, she was “really excited” to take on the role.
Even though her on-screen time is brief, Sarah is arguably the show’s most important character: She sets Joel on the path he takes for the rest of the show and video game. He ends up going on a life-changing journey with Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey), a young teen whose immune to the virus. “It’s such an iconic opening to the game,” she says.
Parker’s real father — director Ol Parker, known for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and the recent “Ticket to Paradise” — had a different reaction to the role.
“I think it was quite intense for him to see me die. It was quite a strange experience,” she says.
As for what her Emmy-award winning mom, Thandiwe Newton, thinks? Parker says that Newton hasn’t yet seen her performance in “The Last Of Us.”
“She’s amazing, but in terms of like learning things, I feel like I just find it too weird,” Parker says, “Like I know that you’re my mom, but what are you talking about?”
After walking the red carpet at the Jan. 9 premiere of “The Last of Us” in L.A., Parker is now planning her next career move. She says the only thing she wants is to continue working with role models, like she did for this project.
“I think I’m really fortunate,” she says. “I haven’t done like loads of stuff, but everything that I have done, it’s been with really, really lovely people.”