Steven Spielberg sent personal letter praising The Last of Us’ heart-breaking queer love story

Steven Spielberg/The Last Of Us Episode 3

Three-time Oscar-winning juggernaut director Steven Spielberg was one of the very first Hollywood A-listers to throw his support behind The Last of Us’ heart-rending gay love story in episode three.

The most commercially successful director in history was quick to praise the episode’s critically acclaimed queer storyline and even sent a personal letter to Craig Mazin, the episode’s writer. 

HBO’s post-apocalyptic fungal thriller The Last of Us, based on the award-winning videogame of the same name, stunned audiences when it aired in January, with powerhouse performances from leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

But it was episode three, entitled “Long, Long Time” which focuses on the love story between Bill (Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman) and Frank (The White Lotus’ Murray Bartlett) that had viewers in tears. 

Despite homophobic backlash from certain corners of the internet, the episode was praised by fans and critics alike for Offerman and Bartlett’s rich and moving performances and the decision to include – and explore – a mature gay relationship. 

The episode’s director, Peter Hoar, has revealed that Spielberg himself was an early fan of Nick and Frank’s story. 

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Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter on Friday (9 June), Hoar said: “Well, I didn’t get it directly, but [a Spielberg letter] came to Craig Mazin, the writer of my episode on The Last of Us – the writer of all the episodes. 

“He shared it with myself, Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett and [cinematographer] Eben Bolter,” Hoar continued.

And apparently, the chosen few were incredibly honoured to have been noticed by the Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park director. 

“Basically, a whole group of middle-aged men started squealing because their idol had realised who they were.”

The “Long, Long Time” director added: “I think he probably knew who everyone else was, but he didn’t know who I was. And now he’s probably forgotten.”

Murray Bartlett and Nick Offerman as Frank and Bill in The Last of Us. (HBO)

The episode currently holds a 98 per cent ‘fresh’ rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, despite an attempt at review-bombing from anti-LGBTQ+ haters. 

Offerman, who played the hardened survivalist Bill, was not here for bigoted responses to the episode, expertly clapping back at a homophobic troll on Twitter.

Replying to a swiftly-deleted tweet, Offerman wrote: “Buddy, your brand of ignorance and hate is exactly why we make stories like this.”

Bartlett has spoken out about the onscreen “chemistry” between himself and Offerman and the “magic” of the episode’s script. 

In January, Hoar told Inverse that he had to “trick” straight audiences into becoming emotionally invested in a gay love story, saying: “I think then they might understand that it’s all real. It’s just the same love.”

The Last of Us has officially been renewed for a second season, with filming taking place in Vancouver, Canada.

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