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Nick Offerman condemns 'homophobic hate' against his 'Last of Us' episode

The actor took on critics of the relationship between Bill and Frank during his acceptance speech at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
/ Source: TODAY

Nick Offerman offers a scathing rebuke to haters of "Long, Long Time," the episode of "The Last of Us" that earned the actor a 2024 Film Independent Spirit Award over the weekend.

During his acceptance speech for best supporting performance in a new scripted series on Feb. 25, Offerman praised HBO for telling "stories with guts" before taking on critics of the relationship between his character, Bill, and Frank (Murray Bartlett), two survivors who find love in the wake of a global pandemic.

"When homophobic hate comes my way and says, 'Why did you have to make it a gay story,' we say, 'Because you ask questions like that,'" Offerman said before continuing, "'It's not a gay story, it's a love story, you a------.'"

2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Show
Nick Offerman accepts the award for best supporting performance in a new scripted series for "The Last of Us" at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.Michael Buckner / Variety via Getty Images

The candid comment elicited cheers from the audience and addresses controversy over the episode, which has drawn the ire of some viewers of the show who took to social media to post comments disparaging its storyline.

Premiering in January 2023, the popular HBO series stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, two post-apocalyptic survivors who serve as humanity's last hope for survival after a fungal infection destroys civilization and turns people into zombies, or "clickers."

Episode Three of the series, titled "Long, Long Time," steps out of the main storyline to chronicle the bittersweet story of Bill and Frank, two survivors who find comfort and, ultimately, lasting love after a chance meeting brings them together.

Nick Offerman is Bill in The Last of Us.
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in "The Last of Us." HBO

Critically acclaimed, the moving episode had people on social media expressing their appreciation over the emotional storyline.

“I laughed, I cried,” read one comment, which added, “It will be one of the best episodes of television for 2023."

“I can’t stop listening to Linda Ronstadt’s Long Long Time. And I can’t stop crying. So unexpected and so beautiful," read another post.

Along with being lauded for its poignant storytelling and acting, "Long, Long Time" also faced homophobic backlash, leading to Offerman's pointed acceptance speech.

Other actors have also spoken out over hate-filled speech directed at the show, including Ramsey and Storm Reid, who play two star-crossed teens whose relationship becomes romantic in Episode Seven of "The Last of Us."

The friends share a sweet kiss, which led to wave of vitriol online. Ramsey has clapped back against such backlash in the past.

“I know people will think what they want to think,” Ramsey said in a GQ interview last year. “But they’re gonna have to get used to it.”

Ramsey also said, “If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you, and you’re missing out.”

As far as his award-winning portrayal of Bill is concerned, Offerman told Jimmy Kimmel during an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” last year that he almost turned down the role due to lack of time.

Nick Offerman is Bill in The Last of Us.
Nick Offerman as Bill in "The Last of Us."HBO

However, after his wife, “Will and Grace” star Megan Mullally, read the script, he didn't have a choice.

“You’re going to Calgary, buddy. Have fun," Mullally told Offerman, he recalled.

In addition to taking on haters during his acceptance speech at the Spirit Awards, Offerman offered his thanks to Mullally, whom he jokingly called "my bride, my puzzle coach and legal property," before adding a serious, "I love you forever."

Renewed for a second season, "The Last of Us" recently added actor Catherine O'Hara to the cast and is slated for a 2025 release.