The prospect of a live-action Halo adaptation has become a reality. On March 24, Master Chief is dropping onto Paramount Plus as the Halo universe expands for a brand new audience.
To get here, the Halo adaptation has seen a tumultuous production. Following an initial announcement in 2015, the Halo series has overcome a fair share of hurdles, especially when shooting during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the cast and creators are nearing the finish line with the nine-episode season kicking off this spring.
Following the release of the official trailer during the NFL AFC Championship game, we were invited to attend a panel featuring core cast members including Pablo Schreiber (Master Chief), Natascha McElhone (Dr. Catherine Halsey), Yerin Ha (Quan Ah), Bokeem Woodbine (Soren-066), and Charlie Murphy (Makee). Executive Producers Kiki Wolfkill, Steven Kane, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank also rounded out the panel.
Over the course of the panel, the creative team discussed the show’s direction and how it will differentiate itself from the long 20-year established canon of Xbox’s iconic franchise. Additionally, we got some insight into new characters and what they bring to the table.
Halo is said to tell very personal stories about the brutal war, inner politics, and space exploration. Wolfkill went on to explain, “In particular, the Master Chief who, you know, is the very best of us but also has had a lot taken away from him. So I think really for us…We really tried to explore, how much of our humanity are we willing to sacrifice in order to save it?”
Of course, developing an adaptation as large as Halo, across these many years, is no easy task. However, the team in charge appears to have been able to learn and adapt as they went. The Halo series was first a love child of former Xbox head Don Matrick and has since been stewarded by many names and faces. Currently, the show is spearheaded by Kane as showrunner alongside the other EPs.
Halo can’t be Halo without Master Chief in all his glory. Based on the trailer, Chief is shown in full, combating Covenant enemies while donning the stunning Mjolnir armour. There are big shoes to fill (both literally and figuratively) but Schreiber took the challenge. Stepping up to the plate, Schreiber describes the process as being backed by committing to learning the material and enveloping himself in 20 years of story.
“Your first point of contact is the story and it’s going to be your first and it’s going to be your last point of contact. So your preparation obviously is learning the story becoming involved with the story. It’s one of the real beauties of this project. The depth of story and mythology that we have to draw from with the Halo universe is amazing.”
Although the Halo TV series is being treated separately from the Halo game franchise, there is a connective tissue between the two. Jen Taylor, the voice of iconic AI Cortana lends her voice to the character in the series. “When we started the show, she was knee-deep in Halo Infinite,” Wolfkill explains. However, schedules aligned and Taylor was able to become Cortana once more. “Bringing her voice and all of the history with that character was, I think, the most valuable part of it.”
Out of the many new characters introduced in the Halo series, Murphy’s Makee is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. In the trailer, we see her character seemingly siding with the Covenant and the High Prophet leaders. Although Murphy did not divulge exactly what Makee’s motivations are, the character “Steven has created a very great storyline for me,” Murphy states. “ I’m kind of similar to the Spartans, in a sense that my child has heard has been kind of taken away from me…I feel like humans have betrayed her.”
Soren-066, a character first introduced in the Halo: Evolutions graphic novel, is being played by Woodbine who hopes to add more texture to the character. When speaking about donning the Spartan armour, Woodbine claims he had it easy in comparison to his co-stars.
“My character, he kind of, you know, he went AWOL. So I have the sport and training and I have a lot of the armour, but also have a certain amount of freedom in how I put it together. So my character kind of piecemealed the parts that he thought were less cumbersome and important.
Playing soldier Quan Ah, Ha joins the roster of new characters. Her character is the daughter of Jin Ha, a rebel leader seen in the trailer. Quan Ah will be a character seeking the protection of her people and planet while striving for independence. It’s a very new character for the Halo series. In the trailer we see Quan Ah interacting with Master Chief a lot and she could be the vessel used to show the more human elements of the super-soldier.
Steven Kane closed out the panel by discussing the accessibility of the Halo series. The show should prove to be an entryway into the franchise while also delivering deep lore and easter eggs to those following the IP across generations.
“You get rewarded at any level that you approach from. If you’re a Halo deep lore fan, there are going to be easter eggs. There are going to be characters you may have only heard about in a book in one of the 17 or so books that were written. Some characters don’t exist in the games at all. Some are brand new. But you know, we worked very hard to collaborate with 343 in every department to sort of be able to reward the true Halo fan.“
Paramount Plus has not confirmed whether the series will continue past its initial run. However, Falvey did state that the intention is to produce “several seasons of the show” as “there’s a lot of stories to tell.”While Kane announced that he will step down from his role as showrunner following its inaugural season, a new showrunner is already being looked at. In the event Halo does get picked up for a sophomore season, the team has their eyes on David Wiener, known for working on Fear the Walking Dead and Brave New World.
Halo kicks off on March 24 exclusively on Paramount Plus.