The Last of Us season 2 casts Madame Web star Isabela Merced in major role

Isabela Merced smiles for the cameras as she walks the red carpet at Elle's Women in Hollywood Celebration 2023
Isabela Merced is the third new actor to join The Last of Us season 2's cast. (Image credit: Kayla Oaddams/Stringer)

The Last of Us season 2 continues to round out its starry cast with the addition of Dora and the Lost City of Gold star Isabela Merced.

Revealed on social media yesterday (January 11), Naughty Dog – the developer of the award-winning and beloved The Last of Us game series – confirmed Merced as the show's newest hire. Per the video game creator's post on X/Twitter, Merced will portray Dina, a key character in The Last of Us Part II, which the TV adaptation's second season will largely draw from.

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Merced, whose other notable roles include 2023 animated film Migration and 2021 TV show Maya and the Three, is the third actor to land a coveted role in The Last of Us season 2

A day earlier (January 10), Netflix's Beef star Young Mazino was confirmed to be playing Jesse in the show's second season. On January 9, HBO and Naughty Dog also confirmed that No One Will Save You's Kaitlyn Dever had signed on to portray Abby, the deuteragonist in The Last of Us Part II. Interestingly, the show's sophomore outing reunites Dever and Merced after the pair worked together on 2022 Hulu movie Rosaline.

In a statement provided to Variety, co-showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said: "Dina is warm, brilliant, wild, funny, moral, dangerous and instantly lovable. 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."

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Filming on the next installment of the critically-acclaimed Max TV show is set to begin in February, so it's unsurprising that we've seen daily cast announcements throughout this week. 

Will we get another today (January 12) ahead of the weekend? Perhaps. There are three other major supporting characters in The Last of Us Part II who are yet to be cast (or, rather, announced) for one of the best Max shows' second season. We could get all three by the end of the day; or HBO and Naughty Dog could wait until next week to reveal these individuals. We'll let you know as soon as we hear more.

Isabela Merced's breakout year

Isabela Merced's Anya looks concerned as she crosses her arms in Madame Web

Isabela Merced will play Anya Corazon in Spider-Man spin-off film Madame Web (Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

2024 is going to be a big year for Merced. The 22-year-old American has been acting since 2013's The House that Jack Built, but she's slowly risen to prominence with impressive performances in numerous movie and TV roles.

Now, it seems Merced's breakout year has arrived. Before The Last of Us fans get to see her take on fan-favorite character Dina, Merced will star in three of 2024's new movies – two of which could be memorable for wildly different reasons.

First up is Madame Web, the latest Spider-Man movie spin-off, which is due out in theaters in mid-February. Its time-hopping trailer drew comparisons with Terminator and Loki season 2, but Spidey fans were equally unimpressed by its cringe-laden dialog and generic superhero tropes.

Merced is also set to play the lead role in Alien: Romulus, the latest entry in the iconic sci-fi horror franchise, and one of 18 epic movies I'm most excited for in 2024. After two lackluster films in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, I'm hoping Merced can help to turn the series' fortunes around.

For those interested, the final flick she's set to feature in is Turtles All the Way Down, a film adaptation of John Green's 2017 romance novel of the same name.

If you're curious to find out how good an actor Merced is, and what she'll bring to the role of Dina on one of the world's best streaming services (i.e. Max), you might want to check her out in one or more of these movies. Whether you do or don't, her star is only set to rise with her involvement in The Last of Us season 2 – an opinion I'm sure you'll all agree with when the series returns sometime in 2025.

The Last of Us season 1 is available to stream now on Max (US), Sky Atlantic (UK), and Binge (Australia).

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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