All About Bella Ramsey, the 19-Year-Old Star of HBO's 'The Last of Us'

Bella Ramsey attends the "Catherine Called Birdy" UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on September 20, 2022 in London, England
Bella Ramsey attends the "Catherine Called Birdy" UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on September 20, 2022 in London, England

Joe Maher/Getty

Bella Ramsey has come a long way since playing a pint-sized ruler on Game of Thrones.

The 19-year-old English actress is costarring alongside fellow GoT alum Pedro Pascal in the highly anticipated video game turned original series, The Last of Us, on HBO.

Ramsey plays Ellie Williams, a teenager who is immune to the fungus that has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with "infected." Joel Miller, portrayed by Pascal, is a smuggler on a journey to deliver Ellie to a rebel group in the hope that she can be the cure.

"It's only recently that I've accepted I am Ellie, and I can do it, and I am a good actor," she told the New York Times. "But this will last for a few weeks and then I'll think I'm terrible again. That's just the process."

Ramsey has admitted to not being much of a gamer, but regardless, she was drawn to the starring role of Ellie and felt attached to her "for reasons I couldn't describe." As recommended by show creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin, the actress avoided playing the actual game to prepare for the role. Instead, she told the Times, she turned to YouTube to watch major gameplay scenes, which helped her "to feel confident that the Ellie I felt inside of me, under my skin, was the right one."

Ramsey ended up getting so into character that it became hard to distinguish where Ellie stopped and her real self started.

"People always ask, at the end of a shoot day, how I get back into being Bella," she said. "But I didn't know how to do that with Ellie because we were so intertwined."

During an interview with The A.V. Club, Ramsey said it was "scary" to finally put the project out into the world.

"It's something that feels very personal to me. I think about everyone who's watching it, everyone who's so invested, it feels, yeah, like a very personal thing," she said. "So, it's bizarre, in a way, to share it with the world. But it's a joy at the same time that people have been responding so well to it and being inspired by it and by the story like they were initially in the video game."

From her experience working with Pascal to how she mastered her American accent, here's everything to know about Bella Ramsey.

She got involved with theater at a young age

Bella Ramsey arrives for the premiere of Catherine Called Birdy during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on September 11, 2022
Bella Ramsey arrives for the premiere of Catherine Called Birdy during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on September 11, 2022

GEOFF ROBINS/AFP

Ramsey was born in September 2003 in Nottingham, England and grew up in Leicestershire. At age 3, she joined an amateur theater group and participated in drama clubs as a child.

She then enrolled in the Television Workshop in Nottingham and began auditioning for professional roles, which led to her first credited role.

Game of Thrones was her first acting job

Bella Ramsey at the Variety Studio, Presented by King's Hawaiian - Day 4 at the St. Regis Hotel on Monday, September 12th 2022 in Toronto, Canada
Bella Ramsey at the Variety Studio, Presented by King's Hawaiian - Day 4 at the St. Regis Hotel on Monday, September 12th 2022 in Toronto, Canada

Michelle Quance/Variety/Getty

Ramsey joined the cast of Game of Thrones at age 11 during season 6 of the series as Lyanna Mormont, head of House Mormont. Though she only appeared in nine episodes from seasons 6 through 8, the fierce Lady of Bear Island quickly became a fan favorite.

"I think playing confident characters also helps with your own confidence," Ramsey told The Cut in 2019 about her role as the petite leader. "Say you're in a situation where you're feeling anxious or nervous — you can become a character and work through it that way."

She has been open about her eating disorder diagnosis

In Oct. 2018, Ramsey opened up on Twitter about her struggles with an eating disorder. In a series of tweets posted in honor of World Mental Health Day, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa "just over a year ago," but noted, "this illness had a hold of me for a year or so before that."

"There isn't always an answer but let me tell you this - there's always a way out. There's always light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dim it might seem," she wrote. "I am fortunate to have reached that light, at moments it felt non existent. But it was always there."

She credited a "huge part" of her recovery to religion, though she told the New York Times in 2023 her relationship with faith is now "a lot quieter."

Her relationship with Pedro Pascal mirrors their characters' relationship

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey attend the Los Angeles Premiere of HBO's "The Last Of Us" at Regency Village Theatre on January 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey attend the Los Angeles Premiere of HBO's "The Last Of Us" at Regency Village Theatre on January 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California

Amy Sussman/GA/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty

Pascal's character on Game of Thrones, Oberyn Martell, was killed off before Ramsey joined the show two seasons later, so the pair didn't meet until production began on The Last of Us in July 2021.

"We didn't get as chance to meet or bond before we started filming. We were very much just thrown in. And that chemistry was just there immediately and just grew and developed as Joel and Ellie's did," Ramsey told GameRant.com. "As their relationship developed so did ours. And I think that was a very nice parallel and, yeah, maybe it was intentional on Neil and Craig's [the creators of the show] behalf. To not give us time to like meet and bond. I think it worked really well."

Pascal added, "It's true, it was very parallel in terms of like getting to know each other by stepping onto the set at the same time and getting in front of the camera and getting the story. And our shyness with one another and invented expectations of one another just faded away."

She's received several award nominations

Bella Ramsey attends the "Judy" European Premiere at The Curzon Mayfair on September 30, 2019 in London, England
Bella Ramsey attends the "Judy" European Premiere at The Curzon Mayfair on September 30, 2019 in London, England

Tristan Fewings/Getty

For her starring role in the medieval comedy film Catherine Called Birdy, Ramsey was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for best young actor/actress.

"Thank you very very much @CriticsChoice and what cooool people to be in a category with," she wrote on Twitter after the nominations were announced.

In addition to her Critics Choice Award nomination, Ramsey has earned BAFTA nominations for her roles in Hilda and The Worst Witch, plus a Screen Actors Guild nomination for her part in the Game of Thrones ensemble cast.

Not only has she earned recognition from awards shows, but her castmates have also sung her praises as well. Joe Alwyn, her Catherine Called Birdy costar, told the New York Times that Ramsey is "full of a childlike energy and a willingness to jump in and play, whilst also carrying a maturity and awareness way beyond her years."

She's spoken about being gender fluid

In her interview with the New York Times, Ramsey opened up about gender identity, saying, "I guess my gender has always been very fluid."

The actress added, "Someone would call me 'she' or 'her' and I wouldn't think about it, but I knew that if someone called me 'he' it was a bit exciting."

Ramsey also said she would tick "nonbinary" as an option if filling out a form. "I'm very much just a person," she shared. "Being gendered isn't something that I particularly like, but in terms of pronouns, I really couldn't care less."

She mastered her American accent by cursing

The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Tuesday, January 10, 2023, with guests Bella Ramsey
The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Tuesday, January 10, 2023, with guests Bella Ramsey

Terence Patrick/CBS

During an appearance on The Late Late Show, Ramsey explained that the first phrase with an American accent she mastered with her dialect coach was "olive oil." After that, came the curse words.

Fellow interviewee Regina Hall said, "that's really all you need" in terms of the teenager nailing her accent.

"Because the character that I play in this show, The Last of Us, Ellie, curses every two seconds," Ramsey told host James Corden. "So that was definitely important. There are so many [curse words]."

The Last of Us premieres on January 15 on HBO.