HBO’s The Last Of Us casts Isabela Merced as Dina

Merced joins Kaitlyn Dever and Young Mazino as new additions to the cast list for The Last Of Us: Season 2.
Dina, The Last Of Us Part II

HBO’s The Last Of Us has officially added Isabela Merced (Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Transformers: The Last Knight) as Ellie’s love interest, Dina, in Season 2 of the award-winning series.

With the role of Dina described, per Variety, as “a free-wheeling spirit whose devotion to Ellie will be tested by the brutality of the world they inhabit,” Merced looks set to provide an interesting and – if they follow suit from the game – comedic foil for Bella Ramsey’s Ellie. Their relationship serves as a beautiful and complex touchstone for Ellie in The Last Of Us Part II – giving her something tangible to hold onto as she navigates difficult circumstances and emotional upheaval.

Series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said, “Dina is warm, brilliant, wild, funny, moral, dangerous and instantly loveable … You can search forever for an actor who effortlessly embodies all of those things, or you can find Isabela Merced right away. We couldn’t be prouder to have her join our family.”

Known best for her starring role in the live-action Dora the Explorer film, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Merced is an emerging star in Hollywood, with upcoming credits including Madame Web, Superman: Legacy and Alien: Romulus.

The news rounds out a trifecta of casting announcements this week, with Kaitlyn Dever confirmed to be portraying Abby Anderson, and star of Netflix’s BEEF, Young Mazino, taking on the role of Jesse.

Read: HBO’s The Last of Us casts Kaitlyn Dever as Abby

Merced’s casting puts a question mark on the fan theory that Dina already featured briefly in Episode 6 of Season 1, but it doesn’t completely rule it out. Eagle-eyed fans noted that one character – credited as ‘The Staring Girl’ and portrayed by actress Paolina Van Kleef – bore a strong resemblance to Dina, in a scene where Ellie spots a girl watching her and Joel in a diner.

The theory was touched on loosely in the official The Last Of Us podcast, but Mazin and Druckmann stopped just shy of confirming it, instead hinting at an ambiguous potential Easter egg. Merced’s appointment doesn’t entirely rule out the theory – plenty of characters have been played by multiple actors – but it will likely be a while before we find out for certain.

The Last of Us: Season 2 is expected to begin filming in February 2024, with a release on HBO (and on Binge in Australia) scheduled for 2025. Stay tuned for more news of the upcoming season.

Steph Panecasio is the Managing Editor of GamesHub. An award-winning culture and games journalist with an interest in all things spooky, she knows a lot about death but not enough about keeping her plants alive. Find her on all platforms as @StephPanecasio for ramblings about Lord of the Rings and her current WIP novel.