If The Last of Us HBO series is going to faithfully follow the plot of The Last of Us Part II video game, there’s no more crucial character joining the show next season than Abby. So the casting of the part is vital to the success of the season.

Today, HBO announced the actress who will take on this all-important part: Kaitlyn Dever, known for her work on movies like Booksmart and Dear Evan Hansen, and for TV shows like Justified and Last Man Standing. 

Of Dever’s casting, The Last of Us producers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann had this to say:

Our casting process for season 2 has been identical to season 1: We look for world-class actors who embody the souls of the characters in the source material. Nothing matters more than talent, and we’re thrilled to have an acclaimed performer like Kaitlyn join Pedro, Bella, and the rest of our family.

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HBO only described Abby as “a skilled soldier whose black-and-white view of the world is challenged as she seeks vengeance for those she loved.” In the game, Abby was voiced and motion captured by actress Laura Bailey.

Without spoiling the story for those who haven’t played The Last of Us Part II, Abby’s part is even more essential than that description implies. If anything, she becomes one of the co-leads of the franchise alongside Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie. Abby also became the source of a fair amount of controversy online, with angry responses about everything from her function within the narrative to her muscular physique — so we’ll see how that compares with the reception of her role on the TV version.

The Last of Us Season 2 is expected to go into production later this year, with a tentative premiere date some time in 2025.

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