Nick Offerman recalls getting ‘a lot of homophobic hate’ for gay love story in The Last of Us

Nick Offerman (left) behind a The Last of Us background and kissing Murray Bartlett's Frank as Bill in episode three (right)

The Last of Us star Nick Offerman has recalled the hateful homophobic abuse that he received after playing Bill in the show’s groundbreaking gay love story.

It’s safe to say that when one thinks of apocalypses brought about by a globe-destroying fungi, you wouldn’t ordinarily associate them with a seminal queer romance. But that was until HBO‘s adaptation of Naughty Dog’s action-adventure video game The Last of Us came along at the start of the year and became a worldwide phenomenon.

The series featured Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as hardened smuggler Joel Miller and sparky heroine Ellie Williams on a quest to save humanity (not an exaggeration) across a post-apocalyptic United States. Along the way, the pair run into several figures, friendly and very much otherwise.

Falling definitively into the first category were Murray Bartlett‘s Frank and Nick Offerman’s Bill. The latter, a survivalist who created a utopian compound that was relatively safe from fungal nightmares and raiders, and the former, a straggler caught in one of Bill’s booby-traps.

The third episode of The Last of Us expanded beautifully on a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it piece of lore from the 2013 video game. In “Long, Long Time”, viewers trace the pair’s romance from their extraordinary meeting to their tragic but subversive deaths.

Despite critics and fans alike praising the show’s gay love story, Offerman has recalled getting “a lot of homophobic hate” after the episode aired.

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Speaking to The i, the actor said that he was “kinda fascinated by how openly people will express hate and brand themselves as bigots.

“I kept thinking: ‘We can see you!’ Because here were men saying: ‘I’m a father and a Christian and a patriot and I hate queers.’ [Isn’t it crazy that] the public expression of that kind of hatred is still pretty safe?”

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Offerman went on to describe this specific brand of hated as “basically punishing people for loving wrong. All these people want to do is to love each other.”

He also noted that, for years, his very own woodworking shop in Los Angeles, California, has been open to clientele of every background: “People who come to my shop are straight, gay, trans, non-gender-conforming … it doesn’t matter if you want to make a table, and why should it?”

The Last of Us has been confirmed for a second season, though it is unclear whether filming has started.

Aside from a whole host more horrors to befall Ellie and Joel in The Last of Us: Part II, there is a standout queer romance at the centre of its plot, too.

Bella Ramsey has previously said they’re “excited” to explore Ellie’s relationship with fellow survivor Dina, whom many fans think has already appeared briefly during the show’s first season.

The plot of the second game also includes a trans storyline.

In The Last of Us‘s second season, Ellie, Joel and Dina will have to contend with newcomer Abby‘s brutal quest for vengeance that intertwines with their own.

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