Mahershala Ali could have been dodging clickers on HBO’s ‘The Last of Us‘ if the casting had gone differently.

In a recent interview with The Direct, Jeffrey Pierce, who guest-starred on the HBO show and starred in the game, said that Ali was nearly the lead role in the show before casting went with Pedro Pascal.

“I think initially they had talked to Mahershala Ali about playing Joel, which is an obvious cue that I’m not gonna play Tommy,” Pierce, who voiced Tommy in the original game, said. “And when they cast Pedro, I knew like, yeah, that was certainly not going to happen regardless, I’m older than Pedro Pascal. So I was not under harboring any illusions about that, for sure.”

Pierce’s revelation lines up with a report back in 2021 that said that Ali was up for the role.

Ali might have missed out on The Last of Us, but Ali is set to star in another franchise as Blade for Marvel Studios. And, Black fans have had a lot of representation in the form of Rutina Wesley, Storm Reid and Nico Parker. Parker recently opened up to Yahoo Entertainment about the racism she’s received for playing Sarah, Pascal’s on-screen daughter.

“There are people for whom the game is incredibly important to them,” she said. “But when it comes from a place where it’s just a disdain toward any kind of inclusivity, that’s where I don’t care. I don’t value that opinion and I don’t agree.”

Reid also talked about the homophobia she’s witnessed after the episode “Long, Long Time,” featuring the romance of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett).

“Like Bella [Ramsey] said when episode 3 came out: If you don’t like it, don’t watch,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “We are telling important stories. We’re telling stories of people’s experiences, and that’s what I live for. That’s what makes good storytelling because we are telling stories of people who are taking up space in the world.”