How HBO’s The Last of Us created its Jackson, Wyoming setting in Alberta

The community of Jackson closely resembles the western-inspired settlement from The Last of Us Part II

The past weekend, the sixth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us premiered. Following the heartbreaking events from last week’s episode, the sixth episode, ‘Kin,’ introduces us to a thriving community in Jackson, Wyoming.

The series of The Last of Us remixes the location of Jackson in a few very important ways. As seen in the episode, the community of Jackson closely resembles the western-inspired settlement seen in The Last of Us Part II. However, there is still a notable mention of the hydroelectric dam, which serves as the basis for the original game’s locale.

The Last of Us underwent production in Alberta, Canada. As such, the community of Jackson was built in Canmore, a small town in the province. For fans of the games, HBO’s rendition of Jackson closely resembles its video game counterpart. So much so that many scenes feature mirror sceneries. The Last of Us’ production team set out to make Jackson a fresh change of scenery for audiences while staying true to the game.

“The buildings there have a real rustic feel, and this beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains at the end of its main street,” production designer John Paino told Los Angeles Times in an interview.

In the games, Jackson stands as a reminder of what civilization used to be like prior to the Cordyceps virus that plagued the world. Episode six gives us a similar look at the town. Thanks to the nearby dam, Jackson has electricity, running water, etc. Established seven years before Joel and Ellie’s arrival, Jackson is bustling with 300 survivors, sharing responsibilities. The town includes an operational theatre, bar, and grand hall, where community members come to eat meals together. “The barbecue place where Joel and Ellie have their first meal, it’s decorated with banners that might have been made by the children of the community,” Paino says.

What did this all mean for Canmore? Well, production had the difficult task of transforming the sleepy town into a thriving community of post-apocalyptic survivors. The production team went on to build stables and makeshift greenhouses on top of empty parking lots. Screen-ready sidewalks and railroad ties were also installed. Paino’s team also built fake exteriors for a number of the existing buildings. Plus, the rather large wooden barricade shown to surround Jackson was smaller in scale. It actually only covered 60 feet on both sides of a major street. This was all done while not disturbing the day-to-day life of residing members of Canmore.

After production concluded, Paino’s team disassembled its TV version of Jackson. Admitting that some of the barricade walls were used for a set in Episode 7, most of it was thrown in a wood chipper.

In a recent interview, lead actor Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel, revealed his thoughts on Canmore. “Every inch of Canmore was just this magical little town… with really great fudge,” Pascal said. Bella Ramsey, who is cast as Ellie, has remarked, “My favourite place that we went to was Canmore, for sure’.”

Paino concludes by wondering if Canmore will become a hotspot for fans of The Last of Us. Perhaps Canmore will see similar foot traffic to Water White’s house from Breaking Bad. “It’s a really beautiful area, and there’s great skiing and hot springs up there, so I’m for it.”

The Last of Us airs on Crave in Canada each Sunday at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

Image credit: HBO

Source: Los Angeles Times