The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Pablo Schreiber, best known for his roles in American Gods and Orange is the new Black, has been cast to fill the role of the Master Chief in Showtime’s upcoming Halo TV series.
Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 is the main protagonist of Bungie and 343 Industries’ Halo franchise, one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Since the launch of Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001 the franchise has gone on to spawn no less than 12 sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. The games have sold over 77 million copies worldwide and grossed in excess of $60 billion.
It is unknown as yet if Schreiber’s portrayal of the Chief will remain faithful to his digital counterpart. In the Halo video games the Master Chief is a man of few words, and when he does speak it is always from behind the visor of his Mjolnir Powered Assault Armour. At no point since the character’s inception 18 years ago have we ever seen his face.
Obviously holding true to the very stoic representation we see in the games presents a number of issues for actors. Unable to utilise extensive dialogue or facial expression to convey the character’s emotions, Schreiber would be forced to rely primarily on body language and external factors such as cinematography or soundtrack.
However whilst speaking on a panel recently at Reboot Develop, 343’s Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill said that respecting canon is one of 343’s priorities, but not at the cost of doing what makes sense. She went on to say that “there are some details that we may shift, but we want to respect the fans and what they love about the IP.” Specifically that the Halo TV series “may shift dates, locations, or ethnicity of characters.” Unsurprisingly that last comment has some fans concerned.
Joining Schreiber is a new talent, Australian actress Yerin Ha – who will take on the role of an original character for the series called Quan Ah. Quan Ah is described as a “shrewd, audacious 16-year-old from the Outer Colonies who meets Master Chief at a fateful time for them both.”
Showtime are producing the Halo TV series in collaboration with both 343 Industries and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. The narrative will be set during the Human Covenant War, where humanity is fighting a losing battle against an alien hegemony hell-bent on our extinction.
Production of the Halo TV series is set to begin later this year in Budapest, Hungary.