Biography of Ashley JohnsonAshley Johnson is a remarkable example of an actress who began her career at a tender age. She made her film debut at the age of six, starring alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme in the action-packed thriller, "Lionheart." It would be another decade before Ashley would land another significant role, which came in the form of the 2000 romantic comedy, "What Women Want."
By this time, Johnson had already established herself as a talented voice actress, lending her voice to scores of animated characters and video games. One of these projects would prove to be particularly consequential.
In 2013, the game "The Last of Us" was released, with Ashley responsible for the motion capture and voice of the lead character. The premiere was met with resounding global success, and Johnson subsequently worked on both an expansion and a full-fledged sequel, which debuted in 2020. Additionally, in early 2023, she delivered a small but memorable performance in the television series "The Last of Us," based on the legendary video game.
ChildhoodAshley Johnson was born in Camarillo, California, on August 9, 1983. Her mother was an independent film producer, while her father served as the captain of a research vessel.
Ashley became the youngest of three children, with an older brother, Chris, and a sister, Hayley, already part of the family. Following her birth, the family relocated to Michigan, where they resided for several years. When it was time for their youngest daughter to begin school, they returned to California and settled in Los Angeles.
Ashley's grandmother was a renowned pianist, which largely explains the young girl's interest in the arts. She attended the International School of Music, where she studied both piano and violin.
In 1999, Ashley's father passed away from complications related to liver and lung cancer, as well as hepatitis C. This loss dealt a heavy blow to the family. The 16-year-old girl found solace in her burgeoning acting career.
Acting CareerAshley's debut role was a minor character in the television series "Growing Pains." At the time of filming, she was only six years old. In 1990, Johnson appeared in her first feature film, playing the niece of Jean-Claude Van Damme's character in the action-packed thriller "Lionheart." The young actress caused no issues on set and was a captivating presence on screen, leading to a steady stream of new roles and opportunities.
Over the next decade, she portrayed several inconspicuous characters in TV series such as "All-American Girl" and "ER." In 1995, the actress took on the lead role in the family film "Annie: A Royal Adventure."
In 2000, Ashley appeared in the popular romantic comedy "What Women Want," portraying the daughter of the main character, played by Mel Gibson.
In 2001, the actress played a role in the drama "Rustin." Two years later, she appeared in the television series "The Guardian," starring Simon Baker in the lead role. Ashley later worked with the Australian actor again from 2008 onward, on the set of the detective series "The Mentalist."
Johnson also made appearances in several other popular TV series of the 2000s, including "Dollhouse" and "Lie to Me."
In 2010, the actress played the lead female role in the historical romance film "Alleged." A year later, she joined the cast of the detective television series "The Killing," in which the central characters were portrayed by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman.
In 2012, Johnson appeared in a cameo role in the blockbuster "The Avengers," where her character, a waitress, is saved by Captain America. She was initially slated to play Steve Rogers' love interest in subsequent films of the franchise, but this idea was eventually abandoned.
From 2015 to 2020, Ashley portrayed an FBI forensic specialist in the television series "Blindspot." She starred alongside Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton in the project.
Voice ActingJohnson first ventured into voice acting in the mid-1990s. She lent her voice to characters in animated series such as "Jumanji," "King of the Hill," "Recess," and "Family Guy."
Ashley also provided voice work for animated films like "Recess: School's Out" (2001), "Teen Titans" (2003), and "Ben 10: Alien Force" (2008). Since 2005, she has been actively involved in voicing characters for video games, including "Teen Titans," "Ben 10," and "Marvel Heroes."
In 2013, Johnson became the basis for the main character Ellie in the video game "The Last of Us," providing her voice and motion capture. The game's release was met with immense commercial success. Ellie's portrayal earned the actress two BAFTA Awards for Best Performance in a Video Game, as well as a VGX Award for voice acting.
In 2015, Johnson joined the cast of the web series "Critical Role." In this project, voice actors competed in tabletop games, most frequently Dungeons & Dragons. Ashley participated in the first three campaigns. The project's success was so substantial that, in 2018, the creators of "Critical Role" announced the establishment of their own Twitch and YouTube channels, Critical Role Productions studio, and a merchandise store.
Shortly thereafter, they aimed to raise $750,000 on Kickstarter to produce an animated series based on their first gaming campaign. However, backers contributed over $11 million. At the end of 2020, Ashley became the head of the charitable division, Critical Role Foundation.
Additionally, Johnson provided voice work for animated series such as "Infinity Train" and "Close Enough." Moreover, in 2020, the sequel to the video game "The Last of Us" was released. This time, the actress's character Ellie took center stage as the focal point of the entire story.
Working on the sequel took over five years. "When I learned the full story of the sequel, it deeply impressed me, and I couldn't wait to embark on this journey— to tell this story and invest myself in it," Ashley admitted.
Ashley Johnson's Personal LifeIn 2012, the actress began dating Brian W. Foster, a writer and musician. He also participated in the web series "Critical Role" for several years. In 2018, the couple announced their engagement.
Ashley and Brian live happily in a large house with their two dogs. The couple does not have children, but the actress spends a lot of time with her sister's kids, her nieces and nephews.
Ashley Johnson NowIn 2022, the animated fantasy series "The Legend of Vox Machina" was released, based on the first campaign of "Critical Role". The first season was so successful that the project was extended for two more seasons. The continuation of "The Legend of Vox Machina" premiered on Amazon Prime Video in early 2023. Johnson provided the voice for a gnome character named Pike Trickfoot.
In addition, in spring 2023, Ashley appeared in the finale of the series "The Last of Us," based on the eponymous video game. She portrayed the protagonist's mother—a scene depicting Ellie's birth, specifically created for the series, was not present in the game. Critics highly praised Johnson's character, stating that "in less than 10 minutes of screen time, the actress delivered one of the series' finest performances."
Ashley herself was delighted by Bella Ramsey's portrayal of Ellie and her on-screen partnership with Pedro Pascal. "I'm blown away by what she's done. I'm glad she had the opportunity to add her own touch to the character," Johnson admitted.
Additionally, in 2023, it was announced that Ashley would appear in an upcoming sci-fi action film titled "Paradox," co-starring Matt Dallas.
- The director's cut of "The Avengers" on Blu-ray contains some deleted scenes that expanded Ashley's role.
- Johnson co-owns the photography company Infinity Pictures, which she founded with her longtime friend Mila Shah. The pair also co-hosted a podcast called Wildly Hot & Bothered from 2012 to 2014.
- The actress has always loved singing. Until late 2012, she regularly uploaded her own covers of popular songs online. Subsequently, Ashley performed several compositions as part of her voice work for The Last of Us Part II.
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