‘The Last of Us’ newcomer Storm Reid dismisses ‘absurd’ homophobic backlash

Two girls grasping their backpacks as they look into the window of a lingerie store
Storm Reid as Riley, left, and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in “The Last of Us.”
(Liane Hentscher / HBO)

Warning: This story contains mild spoilers for Episode 7 of HBO’s “The Last of Us.”

“The Last of Us” newcomer Storm Reid “will never understand” the homophobic backlash to the hit HBO series inspired by the video game of the same name.

In an interview with Variety published on Sunday, Reid preemptively dismissed anyone who might take issue with the young-love story at the heart of her debut episode. Her remarks echoed those of her “Last of Us” co-star, Bella Ramsey, who previously told GQ that haters who disapprove of the show’s LGBTQ storylines are “missing out.”


“I think Bella put it perfectly a couple of weeks ago: ‘If you don’t like it, don’t watch,’” Reid told Variety.

“There’s so many other things to worry about in the world. I think being concerned about who people love is just absurd to me. ... I don’t get it.”

Sunday’s seventh episode introduces Ellie’s best friend Riley, played by Storm Reid — and she has a fascinating origin story in her own right.

Feb. 26, 2023

The latest installment of “The Last of Us,” which premiered Sunday night on HBO, introduces Reid as Ellie’s (Ramsey) rebellious best friend and childhood crush, Riley. During the flashback episode, Riley takes Ellie on a spontaneous date to a deserted mall where the girls explore the abandoned shops and their growing feelings for each other.

“Despite what people are going to say, if they don’t like it, I think there are going to be a lot more people that appreciate it. A lot more people that feel represented and seen and heard,” Reid told Variety.

“That’s what matters. That’s where the work comes in. And that’s when it’s appreciated, and you prioritize looking at those tweets rather than the ones that aren’t the best.”

‘If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines ... that’s on you, and you’re missing out,’ said star Bella Ramsey of ‘The Last of Us.’

Feb. 13, 2023

The rising TV stars (Ramsey landed her breakout role in “Game of Thrones,” and Reid is known for her work in “Euphoria”) also discussed their approach to some of the episode’s most pivotal scenes — including (spoiler alert!) Ellie and Riley’s first kiss.


“I could sort of feel myself when we were filming it: My heart would beat faster and my palms got sweaty, because we were so very much immersed in what we were doing,” Ramsey said. “It becomes real between action and cut.”

“When you have a crush on somebody, you’re like, ‘I don’t know whether they like me back! I don’t know how I feel!’” she added. “The way that that is shown and translated into a story like this is so cool.”

In Sunday’s episode, the HBO series introduces two characters from the game, Bill and Frank — and changes their story completely. Here’s why.

Jan. 29, 2023

Ramsey continues to weigh in on the discourse surrounding the post-apocalyptic drama’s portrayal of LGBTQ characters. After the third episode of the series — which centered on strangers-turned-lovers Bill and Frank — was met with overwhelmingly positive and some hateful reactions online, Ramsey told GQ she wasn’t “particularly anxious about” internet trolls trying to bring the show down.

“People will think what they want to think. But they’re gonna have to get used to it,” Ramsey said earlier this month. “If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you.”

“It isn’t gonna make me afraid,” she added. “I think that comes from a place of defiance.”