According to Pablo Schreiber, the star of Paramount Plus’ upcoming live-action Halo adaptation, the production team’s decision to have his portrayal of iconic series lead Master Chief regularly appear without his helmet was made out of a belief that such a reveal was “always a necessary thing […] to get the audience comfortable with going on this journey.”
Schreiber, perhaps best known for his prior roles as Nick Sobotka in The Wire and George “Pornstache” Mendez on Orange Is The New Black, gave his insight into Master Chief’s helmetless depiction during a recent appearance made at South By Southwest.
Speaking with Slashfilm reporter Ryan Scott on the topic following the series’ world premiere at the festival on March 15th, Schrieber explained, “I always knew that the helmet off was going to be a big part of the show because, just quite frankly, it’s the only way to tell this story in long-form television format.”
“The game was made as a first person shooter, where you’re meant to believe that you’re the Master Chief,” he elaborated. “So the character was kept vague for that reason, and you infuse the character with your own personality and your own subtleties. This is a TV show being made for long term success. In order to do that, you have to bring the audience along with you.”
“And really, the only way of doing that is seeing the face, knowing how the character’s feeling about things,” the actor then asserted. “That’s how you empathize with them. That’s how you go along with them on the journey.”
“So it was always a necessary thing, and it was a necessary thing to do early, to get the audience comfortable with going on this journey,” Schreiber said. “Also because the character has been kept vague for so long.”
Further, he elaborated, “The process of the first season is really the process of John learning who he is as a human being. So, ‘Who is the Master Chief?’ is kind of the big question that we’re going to fill in, in the first season. It’s through the process of him learning about himself, and therefore, we, as audience members, will all learn about that along with him.”
Schreiber’s rhetoric echoes that of 343 Industries’ Studio Head of Transmedia Kiki Wolfkill, who in the wake of the February announcement that the Master Chief would have his face shown on-screen for the first time in the franchise’s roughly 21-year history reasoned of this decision, “I think we set out to tell a character story and a personal story, And once we really got into what that story was, it became clear that you really needed to see the person in the armour and under the helmet.”
“For some people, it’s been a moment 20 years in the making, and for other people it is something that feels very hard to imagine,” she told IGN. “We absolutely respect both sides of that fence, those who really want to see Chief’s face and those who really don’t. But for the nature of this story, it felt really important to connect with the Master Chief in a different way, and that meant showing the face.”
Halo, whose showrunner Steven Kane previously revealed both that the writing team proudly “didn’t look at or talk about” the original games during production and that the live-action series would feature a heavy focus on teenage female lead Quan Ah, is set to premiere exclusively on Paramount Plus on March 24th.
What do you make of Schreiber’s explanation of the live-action Halo adaptation’s decision to show Master Chief’s face? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!