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Meet the horses of ‘The Last of Us’ as TV series films in Nanaimo

Downtown streets closed for HBO production

Visiting the set of HBO’s Last of Us in Nanaimo will provide glimpses of derelict vehicles in an overgrown canopy – a challenge to navigate on foot, but perfect on horseback.

Filming for the hit TV series is taking place this week, May 13-14, with Skinner Street and Commercial Street downtown transformed into Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

The show’s second season features horse actor Jazzway, and it is hardly the steed’s first rodeo with a professional past repertoire that includes the TV show The 100 and the movie Jurassic World Dominion.

Jazzway plays the role of Shimmer, the trusty steed of protagonist Ellie Williams, played by Bella Ramsey. Also featured is Pimpin, the horse playing the part of Japan, ridden by Dina in the show’s second season, and Cinch, Jazzway’s double that’s able to be swapped in when needed.

Quentin Schneider, the production’s animal coordinator, told the News Bulletin that the most famous actor to ride Jazzway was likely Robert Redford or Chris Pratt.

“They’re pretty good animals. The horses are better than people,” Schneider said. “They all have normal ranch jobs, then there’s training. They learn to lay down, they learn how to go from A to B, they learn how to do all sorts of stuff.”

After the filming, the animals got to relax by their trailer and were rewarded with hay for a job well done. Jazzway in particular got fed some high-fat treats, which the crew said was due to his older age. Jazzway is pushing 20 years old, making him a senior compared in horse years, while Pimpin is 16 and Cinch is eight. All the horse actors are with Schneider Livestock Inc.

Filming got underway Monday, May 13, after weeks of set preparation. According to the Downtown Nanaimo Business Association, parts of Commercial Street will be closed until Wednesday, May 15, part of Skinner Street will be closed until Friday, May 17, and Wharf Street and Diana Krall Plaza will be closed until May 31.

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READ ALSO: Crews transform Nanaimo’s downtown into ‘The Last of Us’ set