Master Chief is one of the most iconic heroes in gaming history. For more than twenty years, he’s brought pain to his alien adversaries across multiple generations of Xbox consoles, most recently in the very fun Halo: Infinite. Next month, the character will finally make the long-awaited leap to live-action when Halo premieres on Paramount Plus.
The Wire, Orange is the New Black, and American Gods star Pablo Schreiber will be playing Master Chief in a standalone story inspired by the games rather than set in its canon. This means there are already some controversial changes, particularly that we’ll see Master Chief remove his helmet.
Producer Kiki Wolfkill seems all too aware that fans won’t like this, so went into detail on the official Halo website as to why. After explaining that the decision wasn’t taken lightly, she said:
“With the television series, we want to take you on John’s journey and let you experience, as a viewer, his story and evolution from an external, subjective viewpoint; for that, it felt important to see John outside of his armor. We have done this in the past in books and some of our extended storytelling, but this is by far the most visually rich example.”
It’s true that there have been exceptions to the rule that Master Chief never removes his helmet, with the endings of the original Halo and Halo 4 proving it’s at least possible. Even so, neither game ever gave us a good look at his actual face. Wolfkill went on to say that it wouldn’t feel right to hide Schreiber’s performance:
“For us and the show, it felt critical to explore the human within the armor and present a deep set of character stories that gives the audience a different way to experience the Halo universe. … would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the talent and commitment of Pablo Schreiber in bringing this version of the Master Chief to life. There is no end to the respect with which he treated this role and inhabited the suit; we had a lot of conversations around what it meant for John to remove his helmet and it was a responsibility Pablo felt every bit as deeply as we do.”
We’ll know for certain when we see the show, though the first trailers have many fans cautiously optimistic. When Halo arrives, it’ll have been a long time coming: this TV show was first teased when the Xbox One was announced way back in 2013 and has spent much of the time since in development hell.
Joining Schreiber will be Natascha McElhone as Dr. Catherine Halsey, the scientist who conceived and executed the Spartan soldier project and ‘created’ Master Chief, and Jen Taylor as AI buddy Cortana. Those who’ve played the games will know that these apparent allies both take a dark turn as the story progresses, so it’ll be interesting to see if this alternate timeline incorporates that or goes its own way.
Halo premieres on Paramount Plus on March 24.