The red flags continue to fly for Paramount Plus’ upcoming Halo series, as in a recent interview, showrunner Steven Kane has revealed that despite penning over 265 drafts of the live-action adaptation, he and the writing team did not “look at or talk about” the original games in any capacity.
Kane revealed the Halo’s writer’s room’s proud ignorance of Master Chief’s original video game outings during a recent interview with Variety given alongside various members of the production team in promotion of the series’ upcoming premiere.
Speaking with the trade outlet, he asserted, “We didn’t look at the game. We didn’t talk about the game. We talked about the characters and the world. So I never felt limited by it being a game.”
Turning to the topic of the Master Chief himself, the showrunner asserted, “He’s everybody, right?” He’s you, he’s me, he’s a 6-year-old girl, he’s a 15-year-old person in a different country. Whoever plays the game is him.”
“We’re going to tell a story about a man discovering his own humanity,” he explained. “In so doing, he’s invited the audience to discover that guy’s humanity too.”
Recalling that he wrote “upwards of 265 drafts” of the series’ first nine episodes (of which ten total comprise Halo’s first season), Kane shared his excitement at the chance to put his own stamp on the Bungie-created universe.
“There are characters that are mentioned once in a book that I was able to give a whole backstory to, and other characters that were already well written that I just had to drop in,” he said. “I have to give credit to Microsoft. You can pitch them something brand-new, and unless it really complicated them in terms of the canon or the values of the show, they embraced it.”
This decision to split from the story of the Halo video games was further touched upon by 343 Industries’ head of Halo transmedia Kiki Wolfkill, who told Variety, “Early on, we were thinking about doing something that could tie very closely with the game. What we were finding was, trying to verbatim stay with everything that’d come before wasn’t serving the medium.”
“It also wasn’t serving the creative teams and their need to express a story and build the world through their eyes,” she elaborated.
Speaking to the series’ future, Wolfkill also teased that “deeply exploring [the Spartans’] personal life is maybe something that comes in Season 2 or Season 3.”
Admitting that he had never played the game prior to his joining the series, executive producer and director Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood (2018)) confessed, “I was nervous. How do you take a first-person shooter and expand it?”
“There’s no way I was ever going to grasp the whole thing, so there was a lot of phone-a-friend,” Bathurst said. “They were extraordinary in their acceptance of the fact that they couldn’t just try to square-peg-round-hole their 20 years of history. Gaming is a completely different medium.”
Though not a member of Halo’s writing staff, Cortana actress Jen Taylor – set to reprise her role as the Master Chief’s AI companion in the upcoming series – added that the Paramount Plus exclusive would be “a new and exciting, different kind of beast.”
“It feels familiar and different at the same time,” she noted. “I hope people will be excited about that. Do you want it to be exactly the way you’ve already played it and already seen it? I’m not sure. It will be interesting to see how the fans respond to that.”
While not explicitly related to the series’ ignorance of its origins, another red flag was thrown up when Paramount Plus chief programming officer Tanya Giles revealed the streaming platform’s plans for the series.
“This is a swing for a broad audience,” she declared. “My hope is this expands what the Paramount Plus brand can mean.”
However, though the Halo writer’s room seemed to revel in their refusal to engage with the franchise’s source material, the same could not be said of actor Pablo Schrieber, who will star in the series as the regularly helmet-less Master Chief.
“I quickly realized just how new I was to this medium,” Schreiber reminisced. “I spent the first few days of my Halo experience getting killed by Grunts.”
Sharing his excitement at the world conceived by Bungie, Scheiber marveled, “the richness and the depth of the universe was immediately kind of mind-boggling. And incredibly exciting, because what it means as a storyteller is that there’s already been a huge amount of preparation and groundwork.”
“I’m in the middle of a Halo Infinite campaign right now,” he concluded. “I’m having a great time. I’m constantly seeing all the things that are similar to what we were doing [on the show]. So that’s really, really fun.”
The Steven Spielberg-produced Halo will premiere March 24th exclusively on Paramount Plus.
What do you make of the Halo series’ choice to active indifference towards the source video games? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!