How The Prosthetics Designer For “The Last Of Us” Made Makeup Magic

Liane Hentscher/HBO

HBO’s “The Last Of Us” has succeeded in winning the hearts of viewers far and wide – even those who have never played the popular video game it’s based on. The series takes place in a post-pandemic world where a Cordyceps fungal infection has taken over mankind and turns humans into blood-thirsty, zombie-like creatures. The most distinct feature of these “Infected” beings is the fungus that blooms in massive, textured folds starting from their heads and spreading throughout the body depending on the severity of the infection.

The intricate and chill-inducing prosthetics are the work of Barrie Gower, the makeup designer behind some of television’s most well-known monsters, including Vecna on “Stranger Things” and the Night King on “Game of Thrones.”

Among the “Infected” on “The Last of Us,” there are a few distinct categories: the Runners, the newly infected known for their speed, Clickers, who have gone blind from the infection and rely on a clicking noise to locate prey, and Bloaters, massive creatures who have been completely overtaken by the fungus. The video game also features a Rat King, which is just as horrifying as it sounds, but this creature has yet to appear on the show.

Gower’s extensive prosthetics required a massive team of artists and countless hours of researching, designing, testing, and construction. “We had 100s and 100s of characters over the course of the season in several different stages of infection,” the artist wrote in an Instagram caption.

From the 80-pound body suit to a hidden detail you probably missed, learn all about the fascinating and grueling process behind creating the zombies of “The Last of Us.”

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