In the realm of video game development, the creation of a character is a journey that often takes unexpected turns, as was the case with Abby from “The Last of Us Part 2.” Laura Bailey, the talented voice behind the complex character of Abby, embarked on a physical transformation to align with the initial vision for her role, only for life to introduce its own plot twist.
Character Evolution: Crafting Abby
Naughty Dog’s ambitious sequel to its critically acclaimed game, “The Last of Us,” brought with it a new character that would challenge traditional perceptions of female protagonists in video games. Abby, portrayed by Laura Bailey, emerged as a revenge-driven fighter with a physique that stood in stark contrast to the more commonly depicted female forms in gaming.
The development of Abby’s character was a deliberate choice, aiming to present a figure who was not only muscular and broad but also capable of mirroring the physicality of Joel, one of the original game’s beloved characters.
Neil Druckmann, the game’s director, shared insights into the evolution of Abby’s character in a recently released documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Last of Us Part 2.”
From the early stages of concept art to the final product, Abby transformed into a character whose physical strength was as integral to her identity as her emotional depth. Druckmann revealed that the decision to design Abby with a notably muscular build was a moment of inspiration that felt refreshingly innovative for the game’s narrative.
To bring authenticity to Abby’s portrayal, Druckmann encouraged Bailey to physically prepare for the role, suggesting she should “beef up” to match Abby’s intended appearance. Bailey took this direction to heart, embarking on an intense training regimen that included deadlifting among other exercises.
However, life’s unpredictability intervened when Bailey became pregnant, a turn of events that she approached with a lighthearted attitude, acknowledging the timing with a shrug, “Eh, what are you gonna do?”
Behind the Scenes and Beyond
The documentary also sheds light on the broader creative process at Naughty Dog, including the initial concept of transforming “The Last of Us Part 2” into an open-world adventure inspired by Bloodborne. Additionally, the studio addressed its controversial history with crunch culture, signaling a commitment to change and better practices moving forward.
The dedication to character development and the willingness to navigate the complexities of life and art underscore Naughty Dog’s approach to storytelling. Abby’s evolution from concept art to a fully realized character reflects a nuanced understanding of strength, both physical and emotional, setting a new benchmark for character creation in video games.