The first new cast members for the highly anticipated return of HBO’s The Last of Us season two have been announced.

Kaitlyn Dever has joined the cast of the acclaimed post-apocalyptic drama as the controversial vindictive soldier Abby Anderson.

“Our casting process for season two has been identical to season one: we look for world-class actors who embody the souls of the characters in the source material,” co-creators, writers, executive producers and directors Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann explained in a joint press release.

“Nothing matters more than talent, and we’re thrilled to have an acclaimed performer like Kaitlyn join Pedro, Bella and the rest of our family.”

News of the casting of Abby Anderson came in September last year. In an interview with LA Times, Mazin revealed that the position had been filled.

Dever is best known for her roles in Booksmart and Justified and has previously featured in Uncharted 4, another Naughty Dog creation.

Dever has responded to the news with a post on Instagram that said: “So excited to be joining the family.”

Alongside Dever, recently Emmy-nominated Young Mazino for his role as Paul Cho in Beef has been cast as Jesse, a beloved member of the franchise.

“Young is one of those rare actors who is immediately undeniable the moment you see him. We’re so lucky to have him, and we can’t wait for the audience to see Young shine in our show,” the co-creators shared.

Early in 2023, the HBO adaptation of the popular Naughty Dog game franchise was met with widespread critical acclaim.

The series stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, a smuggler who is forced to travel across the United States with Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a teenager who is immune to the virus that is transforming the population into mutated, zombified creatures.

The Last of Us was the big winner at the first of the two 75th Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies, receiving honours in nine categories including Outstanding Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Storm Reid), Picture Editing, Main Title Design, Prosthetic Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

The popularity of the first season prompted the announcement of the renewal of the second season prior to the finale of season one.

Upon the announcement of the news Druckmann, executive producer, celebrated: “I’m humbled, honoured, and frankly overwhelmed that so many people have tuned in and connected with our retelling of Joel and Ellie’s journey. The collaboration with Craig Mazin, our incredible cast & crew, and HBO exceeded my already high expectations.

“Now we have the absolute pleasure of being able to do it again with season two! On behalf of everyone at Naughty Dog & PlayStation, thank you!”

Casey Bloys, HBO CEO, announced at a press conference on 2 November 2023 that production for season two is slated for early this year, with a tentative release scheduled for 2025, as reported by Deadline.