Bella Ramsey on THE LAST OF US Season 2 Possibilities, Mental Health, and Gender Fluidity for ELLE Magazine

Posted on January 17, 2023

ELLE spoke with actress Bella Ramsey where she discussed starring in the new show THE LAST OF US, coming of age with fame early in life with her role in GAME OF THRONES, her gender fluidity and mental health.

Even with her guts clenched in the fist of a giant, Bella Ramsey appeared almost indomitable. This had been her effect since the moment she’d first appeared in GAME OF THRONES’s sixth season, as the slight but commanding preteen Lady Lyanna Mormont, swiping attention from her much more famous co-stars and prompting YouTube compilations of “Lyanna Mormont Destroying People For 2 Minutes Straight.” No one, even those who most derided the hit HBO show’s final season, could resist Ramsey’s iron stare. In one of her last scenes as Lyanna, as a CGI wight squished her ribs and her already-shredded breaths turned to gasps, Ramsey let loose a brief but blood-freezing war cry and plunged her sword into the monster’s eye. Her character tumbled to the ground and died moments later. Still, it’s the scream of determination her fans remember best.

This month, the now 19-year-old is entering another legendary franchise as the lead role beside Pedro Pascal in THE LAST OF US, adapted from the beloved PlayStation video game that sold around a million copies within a week of its release in 2013. In the horror-adventure survival series, she plays 14-year-old Ellie, whom I suspect would get along swimmingly with Lyanna, considering their shared predilection for sparring with men twice their size. Born amidst the backdrop of fungus-ravaged, zombie-infested, authoritarian-controlled America, Ellie has an inconspicuous scar on her forearm that makes her a miracle. That disfigured skin marks the remnants of a zombie bite, one she inexplicably survived without the dreaded cordyceps fungus bursting through her blood vessels and assuming control of her body. As such, there’s at least a chance—a good one—she might be the answer to a long-awaited cure.

 

 

Bella Ramsey on her thoughts/feelings surrounding negative comments about her casting: “Believe me, I had my doubts, too. It took a long time, actually, for me to accept that I was Ellie, and that I could be her and that I was the right fit. It took me a good while, even after we finished filming.”

Ramsey how while filming The Last of Us, Ramsey learned she was neurodivergent: “It was cool to see, to have that and to really understand my own brain by being able to understand other people’s.”

Ramsey on how Game of Thrones was a delightful experience, though the consequences in her young life were bizarre: “I was very much a loner, didn’t really have any friends in secondary school—suddenly everybody wanted to be my friend and talk to me,” Ramsey says. “I guess that’s the first time that I ever felt something was shifting in my life.”

Ramsey on her experience with anxiety and an eating disorder: “I know it’s sort of been publicized a lot that I left [The Worst Witch] for mental health reasons. I would say the more accurate description is that I had resolved a lot of my mental health problems by that point. And then the idea was that, ‘I’m not going to do this fourth season because it’s not worth it, because I’m in a better place now. This is not something that I want to continue to string out and have the recurring issues that stem from that first season. I don’t need or want to do this anymore.’”

Ramsey on how she still hesitant to affix herself with labels: “I think, in the past, I’ve had maybe a slightly unhealthy relationship with labels. The label of anorexia is one that I totally—it was like a comfort blanket for me. I held onto it too much. So, I’m wary of them, but I also think that I, in many ways, don’t have the guts to assign a label to myself.”

Ramsey on gender fluidity and identity: “I have labels that I assign to myself. It’s just, publicly, I am hesitant to talk about what those are, because there are still some things that—I’m, I guess, becoming comfortable with and figuring out.” She backtracks. “Actually, I think I’ve probably figured it out, but becoming comfortable with and owning, I suppose. I think people who can publicly talk about who they are, I think that’s incredibly brave and I look up to those people, but it’s not the sort of thing that I can do yet, really.”

Ramsey on the possibility of returning for The Last of Us season 2: “There’s no limits for me. They can do as many games as they like, as many series as they like, and I’ll be here, flying back out to Canada.”

 

[Photo Credit: Jason Hetherington for Elle Magazine]

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