The Last of Us actress 'wasn't prepared for the positive' response to Ellie's sexual orientation

Last night Destructoid attended the videogame BAFTAs in order to do some hard-hitting journalism. Speaking to Ashley Johnson following her BAFTA win for Best Performance for voicing Ellie in The Last of Us and its story DLC Left Behind, we asked all the big questions.

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Aloy-Boyfriend1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

Ellie's Sexual orientation hasn't been clarified yet. That's up to people's interpretation. That is one of the reasons it has been well received.

I don't get why people say Ellie is a lesbian. For her age, that word is still improper because Ellie at her age is in puberty. What I get from Ellie's action is that it was an impulse to show her best friend Ryle how much she appreciates her, and it was the only way to say good bye. It was just a simple kiss. That doesn't make Ellie lesbian.

the_dark_one1104d ago

Damn dude, do you study psychology? That was an interesting point of view on the matter, next time i play the game i will remembe this coment of yours

jonboi241104d ago

I'm not 100% sure but didn't Neil Druckmann write Left Behind with the idea that Ellie is gay and both actresses were acting with this idea as well. I pretty sure he clarified it can't remember where I read it and too lazy to look for it. So if he says she is than she is.

TFJWM1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

He goes into it pretty "deep" in this interview.

-Foxtrot1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

Does it matter about her age in the games universe, the world has changed so much she is part of a new generation which has grown up without concepts on sexual orientation, who knows to her gay, bi, lesbian are words which don't exist like the relics of the old world she's always amazed and confused about on her travels

I think she did it because it felt right and because that concept of sexual orientation doesn't exist in the new, changed, world she just did it. She wasn't scared of anything and didn't have to restrain what ever feelings she had.

I think in my opinion if the concept of sexual orientation didn't exist today and we weren't taught it a lot of people who consider themselves straight would be, to us, bisexual, as there would be no judgement and would feel free to do whatever they want. Who knows maybe more people say they are straight because that's what they've been taught is "normal"

Dee_911104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

I say i'm straight because I don't like penis and I prefer the soft curves of a woman's body and femininity.I wasn't taught that.. I think its called biology. Like with almost all science there are phenomenons, which homosexuality is in a biological perspective.Considering phenomenons are indeed natural though not normal its fair to say homosexuality is natural though not normal.. Don't get me wrong it can be taught but natural feelings will take over what's been taught regardless.. rather its normal or not.

-Foxtrot1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

You're saying that but you'd never know. Who's to say if you were brought up in a world without the concept of sexuality and judgment you would 100% feel the same way. Im not saying you would but we'll never know.

Plus with my comment above I wasn't trying to say everyone would be like that

Disagrees kind of show you how closed minded people are on this subject

Concertoine1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

I didnt disagree because i was close minded, i disagreed because i dont really see how sexual roles become ambiguous in an apocalypse such as TLOU's. Its not like we learn that stuff solely in school or TV, its kind of everywhere. I personally think its close-minded on your part to insist she kissed her because she didn't know any better.

I think she's gay, bi, or bi-curious for the same reasons everyone before an apocalypse is gay, bi or bi-curious.

Dee_911104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

I understand what you are saying.Social conformity dates back to the prehistoric days.But what I am saying is the root of preferring opposite sex starts with the human biology.It wasn't taught.It was the norm of human biology, which is why it was the social norm.Homosexuality wasn't the norm of human biology, which is why it wasn't the social norm.Its beyond human control ( unteachable).
Claiming that people disagreed because of closed mindedness in itself is a closed minded statement.

I'm more uncomfortable watching two preteen girls kiss than the fact they are both girls lol

Why o why1103d ago

Bang on dee. Well said. In fact most comments in here shows that the gaming community aren't as closed minded as some would have others believe.

Sharky2311103d ago

I think it's simple... She loved Riley!

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 1103d ago
Adrian_v011104d ago

"When we finally got to the DLC and Neil Druckmann told me what he wanted to do, I was like yeah of course, that completely makes sense for who Ellie is and why her relationship with Riley was so important to her."

It was planed. And the official wikia says her feelings for Riley were romantic. That's why people say she's lesbian probably. I don't get why it's so difficult to accept.

rainslacker1104d ago

I accepted it, I just preferred the discussion about it more when it was ambiguous because I found it to be more reasonable and enlightening. Most topics like this can cause great discussion when left up to interpretation, but when a director or designer makes it definitive it means there is nothing really left to discuss except the right/wrong or moral implications. The discussion on why they may be that way tend to go out the window in favor of traditional biased rhetoric when not left up to interpretation.

She's still a great character regardless, and I never felt that her sexual preferences really defined her character in any way important to the overall was just another character trait which barely got explored.

ShadowWolf7121103d ago



mikeslemonade1104d ago

1. Her age

2. A lot of women are atleast Bi, so what's the big deal?

pixelsword1103d ago (Edited 1103d ago )

Dude, where's my frickin' lemonade?


GribbleGrunger1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

So, it's clear from the game she's a lesbian, Naughty Dog have explained why they made Ellie a lesbian and the actress has been moved by the response she got for Ellie being a lesbian, but you still think she isn't a lesbian.

This denial from some people is verging on homophobia.

I guess Bill was just flicking off to male pornography because he couldn't find any Penthouse magazines ...

Gay is as normal as straight. get over it.

Aloy-Boyfriend1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

I might have missed that when Naughty Dog confirmed it. It this is true, then I'm highly disappointed that they did.

It's not because I'm homophobic, but because this is the kind of stuff that should be let to fans to interpret and debate, kinda like the ending. I really don't see why she is a lesbian just because of a simple kiss, but I guess it can't be helped

HammadTheBeast1104d ago

That's not the point though, I never really got the feeling that she did that out of a romantic sort of love. It's 2 close friends in their (to them at least) last moments together in a spur of the moment event. I didn't see it as a lesbian or bi gesture, just a friendly kiss in the eyes of a girl who's grown up in a messed up world. There's similar ideas and events in other types of media such as books or movies, its a known trope.

annoyedgamer1104d ago

So arguing about a scene that was open to interpretation is "homophobia"? I see.

I guess we can give Destructoid and their "hard hitting journalism" a medal because they accomplished exactly what they set out to do: start an argument over nothing. Tomorrow they will release another "journalistic" piece titled "Are gamers bigots"?

Concertoine1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

Wow, you're ridiculous.

It's one thing to assume your opinion is right over everyone else's, but to call those people that disagree homophobes?

A lot of girls explore themselves sexually at that age. A lot of them arrive at different results. Its open to interpretation, just like the ending to TLOU.

Im also not sure if ND confirmed anything, but i'm more inclined to the ambiguous side. Its just better storytelling to leave more to the player.

GribbleGrunger1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

Why are you continuing to speculate? The character was written as a lesbian, there were many subtle and one obvious scene that showed she was a lesbian, ND have said she's a lesbian and the actress playing Ellie has said (and thanked) people for the response she's gotten because of Ellie being a lesbian.

Jesus H Christ.

It's a FACT, Ellie is a lesbian. I know that some people find it really difficult to accept that one of their favourite protagonists is gay, and so resort to denial, but that denial is born out of something deep seated and socially driven. Accept it.

For God's sake, her sexual orientation is here, in this article and the headline tells you this, as well as her quotes:

"Usually when I try to tackle any role I know early on in the process what the sexual preference of that character is because that can be a huge part of who they are. With Ellie it was something that wasn't ever really discussed. I think with Ellie growing up in this world it wasn't something that was every really necessarily brought up.

When we finally got to the DLC and Neil Druckmann told me what he wanted to do, I was like yeah of course, that completely makes sense for who Ellie is and why her relationship with Riley was so important to her.

I was surprised by the way people reacted. We didn't know how people were going to respond and I think I was more prepared for the negative comments. What I wasn't as prepared for was the positive ones. I've had so many men and women come up to me and told me things sometimes they haven't even told their parents. It has profoundly changed my life."

And if you think the kiss was the only indication she was gay then clearly you're not very observant. There were many scenes that showed their relationship went beyond just an ordinary friendship. For me, this denial is like crapping on one of the most beautiful moments I've seen in any game.

kraenk121103d ago

Homophobia? This is ridiculous. I found the beauty of that scene in the fact Ellie clearly felt love for someone in this fucked up world, totally unrelated to her supposed sexual orientation. I am honestly a bit disappointed ND even felt the need to clear that up.

DragonKnight1103d ago

If the character were written as a lesbian, why was the idea of Ellie and Sam being a "young love" couple easily teased in the game? I think Ellie was re-written for the DLC as a lesbian, or at the very least Neil Druckmann shoehorned the sexuality thing in at the last minute because the reason everything is so contradictory is because of the Sam and Ellie thing coupled with the kiss event being open to interpretation.

This is why I personally think the issue of sexuality in games is unimportant. Either devs use it poorly, or they shoehorn it in, or it ends up making absolutely no difference at all like in Dragon Age. People made this more than it was and more than it had to be.

I personally thought the "positive reaction" was really just people going "meh, didn't change anything."

Conzul1102d ago (Edited 1102d ago )

Wow Gribble I'm disappointed in you.

Ellie was written as gay TO THE END of seeding the player's mind with the possibility/probability that she was gay. Druckmann himself explains this in the interview.

He wanted the end result to be INTERPRETIVE. And there is nothing certain or factiod about something fundamentally intended to be interpretive.

Personally, I was in that crowd (that Druck brought up later in the interview) that was pissed not because Ellie was gay, but because she was the first (ever) fully-believable strong realistic woman in a game, and now she's gay so there's that stereotype getting more padding. You can't be a tomboy girl without being thought of as a lesbian, or lesbian-tendant. THAT'S what pissed ME off.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 1102d ago
Sy_Wolf1104d ago

I knew my sexual orientation before I hit puberty.

CaptainObvious8781104d ago

As a strong supporter of GG that's a raving misogynist and doesn't want minorities feeling welcome in games and is constantly on the look out to harass women in online lobbies (sarcasm) I thought it was a very welcome choice.

The reason it was welcome is because it didn't feel forced. It didn't feel like the writer was just doing it to pander to a certain group. It fit with the narrative really well.

iTechHeads1104d ago (Edited 1104d ago )

You don't kiss a girl unless you are a lesbian. There are plenty of "straight" ways to show appreciation for a friend without kissing in the mouth. Kissing in the mouth is a romantic gesture. It's not something friends do.

You wouldn't see a girl kiss another girl in a Disney show, right? That's because people would jump to the highly likely/obvious conclusion that the character is gay and sexuality is not something kids are ready to understand.

Ellie didn't hug her friend goodbye or cry of sadness. She kissed her. Ellie kissed a girl. So since we saw no other hints of Elie's sexuality in the game besides that lesbian kiss we jump to the obvious conclusion.....Ellie is a lesbian.....and there's nothing wrong with that. There's no debate here. No need to try and jump through hoops to try and disprove something that has been made so obvious.

As for the article in question about why there wasn't a big deal made about this......its because the game released in 2014(?). The game was Rated M and was released on the PS3/4, not the Nintendo Wii.

kraenk121103d ago

You may be shocked but in my circle of friends it is pretty common to kiss friends on the mouth even without bein sexually interested in them. Especially girls do that all the time. ( I live in Europe/Germany though, not the U.S. where this might be considered a problem)

DragonKnight1103d ago

"You don't kiss a girl unless you are a lesbian. There are plenty of "straight" ways to show appreciation for a friend without kissing in the mouth. Kissing in the mouth is a romantic gesture. It's not something friends do."

Hahaha, this has to have been written by someone young and very naive. Or a Quaker maybe.

mixelon1103d ago

It's only the writers and the actors who specifically said it was a romantic kiss and that she's lesbian or bi.. Nobody important!

“Now when I was writing it I was writing it with the idea that Ellie is gay, and when the actresses were working they were definitely working with the idea that they’re both attracted to each other. That was the subtext and intention that they were playing with from the opening cinematic when they’re holding each other’s hands for too long, or when Riley bites her on the neck; there’s that chemistry there from the get go that was important for us so that we earned that moment when they kissed each other.” - N Druckmann

It wasn't a heat of the moment goodbye friend kiss, it was set up in advance. They almost kiss in the photo booth. Seriously.

pixelsword1103d ago (Edited 1103d ago )

@ mixelon:

That may have been the idea, but it was executed poorly; but I'm glad you put that there because now I know it was intentional, but there was nothing leading up to that part to indicate that there was any sexual tension between them prior to the kiss. You get an agree for that one. ;)

I see girls kiss all of the time, and they really hammer each other, but they seem to always say that their straight; I took it as a girl thing, just like how they dance with each other in clubs and grab each other on their various curves. The intent of sexual proclivity has to be there for it to be a lesbian thing and it was just not there in any scene before the kiss.


Now I must admit, when she kissed her, it seemed like it was in desperation to keep her friend from leaving to join the fireflies, but again, a girl thing, a form of seduction because Elle had nothing else to offer in comparison to a dream that Riley wanted to follow. Just like how my old girlfriend's little sister hugged me because she didn't want me to go to college in another state.

Visiblemarc1103d ago

I disagree, they were in love. That was clear.

JsonHenry1103d ago

Guess I'm the only one that doesn't care one way or the other. Just don't let the movie suck.

DragonKnight1103d ago

I don't really care either. For me, Tess was the better female character in the game and they killed her off.

kraenk121103d ago (Edited 1103d ago )

When I watched this scene I thought: Ellie felt something like love for the first time. Doesn't have anything to do with sexuality at this point. I think you are right, she could be lesbian or couldn't and noone should care..that's the beauty of that scene imho.

I am honestly disappointed about the fact ND felt the need to clear that up.

KingKevo1103d ago

@OP: And if Riley was a boy nobody would even doubt that he is her first love.. hypocritical and not well said at all. She IS gay. sure you can interpret it the way you want and it is intentionally not "in your face" clear since that is how Neil wrote all of the game, but it has been said multiple times by people who worked on it that she is gay. Deal with it and if that piece of information bothers you then I feel sorry but yeah, create the bubble in which she just shows that she likes her as a friend.

ShiranaiJittai1103d ago (Edited 1103d ago )

@OP: Actually that's wrong. I wish I wrote this same article a year ago because I would have been able to. I attended a panel at Momocon about this time last year with Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker talking about their experiences with the Last of Us. Panel ran for a good hour and 10 minutes or so and about 10 minutes of it was her talking about this exact subject. I want to say this panel happened something like two months after the dlc hadn't come out. I didn't want to spoil the dlc for me so I did that cover your ears and hum so you don't hear what people are saying learned later that day though. That is what everyone was talking about.

The creators at Naughty Dog set it that way. So ya whether you want to believe the clarification or not. That is exactly how it played out.

Stoppokingme1103d ago

I don't think Ellie's sexual orientation is an issue.

Straight or not, Ellie is unforgettable and Ashley Johnson deserves her reward.

+ Show (14) more repliesLast reply 1102d ago
annoyedgamer1104d ago

This is what they call hard hitting Journalism? And people wonder what the problem with journalism is...

Masterofwiiu3ds1104d ago

For this site, it is. Better than a "PS4/Xbox One/WiiU is DOOMED!!" article.

annoyedgamer1104d ago

It is just as bad in my opinion if not worse because it fuels distrust and stifles creativity.

sonic9891104d ago

i didnt play the game so my opinion may not seem valid .
but generally i play games just for fun and not to accept or relive what i hate about this world from politics to stupid personal topics .
yeah so i will accept what i want and dont accept what i hate there is no way to push something on me .
i am as stubborn as a rock .
cant wait for my fun innovative games like tearaway .

Aloy-Boyfriend1104d ago

But The Last of Us is actually fun and doesn't relive what you hate about this world. This is not as big as some people has made it to be. It's just characterization and good writing. This happens when devs let thing up to people's interpretation. I agree that the some journalists have blown this out of proportion, just for a simple kiss

sonic9891103d ago (Edited 1103d ago )

you might have a point i respect you opinion .
and since you played the game your opinion is valid , well just to explain myself .
games like mass effect dragon age are pushing certain things the same could be said about COD .
i refuse to support their views or agendas and believe what i believe is correct .
i dont take knowledge from TV or games because most probably they are just pushed in our face to believe .
i play games just to have fun and not to support an issue or a political stance .
thanks buddy .

ltachiUchiha1104d ago

Its next gen and TLOU still winning awards. Hopefully part 2 adds infected to multiplayer or a horde mode.

WizzroSupreme1104d ago

The Last of Us: Left Behind had an even better story than The Last of Us, I found. One of the most moving friendships I've seen in gaming.

goldwyncq1103d ago

I wouldn't go that far, but I definitely think that the dlc's gameplay variety is superior to the main game.