More than twenty years after Halo broke video game boundaries, the acclaimed franchise is finally getting its own television adaptation on ViacomCBS’ upcoming Paramount+ streaming service. The show will surely be an anticipated addition to an increasingly stacked slate of announced content on the service, which is technically a rebranding of CBS All Access meant to expand ViacomCBS’ distribution of the company’s other properties.
The project has had a bit of a difficult time getting off the ground, as the series had been in development since 2013 and has seen multiple creative changes. Kyle Ritten (Lone Star) is the showrunner, but he partnered up with Steve Kane (The Last Ship) in 2019 to split production between the United States and the on-set work in Budapest. Rupert Wyatt (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) was originally set to direct multiple episodes, but Wyatt left and was replaced by Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders), who also serves as one of the executive producers alongside Kane and Killen.
Since the initial announcement, Steven Spielberg has also been attached as executive producer, with his Amblin Television production division co-producing the project with Xbox Game Studios’ 343 Industries. In addition, the episode count was reduced from ten to nine, although luckily more than half the show had already been shot when the COVID-19 pandemic stalled production in March 2020. Originally slated as a Showtime title in 2018, Viacom executives made the decision to bring Halo over to Paramount+ after seeing the completed footage last fall.
David Nevins, who is the Chief Creative Officer of CBS as well as the Showtime Networks Chairman and CEO, considered moving the Halo show from Showtime over to Paramount+ as more ambitious plans for streaming service started to emerge. In talks with both ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish and the show’s producers, it was decided that Halo would be an appropriate fit for the platform due to the demand for a more expansive list of content other than what is already included in the company’s CBS All Access service. Star Trek is currently a flagship property, but Nevins has stated in a report from Deadline that he and the ViacomCBS team were “on the hunt for signature shows” and “defining series.“
For now, Halo is expected to be relased sometime early next year in the first quarter of 2022. Considering the multiple changes to the production schedule over the years, as well as shooting difficulties following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unclear how final this date is.
Halo follows the iconic Spartan supersoldier known as Master Chief John-117 as he fights in the 26th century for the Unified Earth Government’s military, the United Nations Space Command, against the alien religious zealots known as the Covenant. According to Showtime president Gary Levine in a Deadline report, the plot will involve “new drama” while still remaining “faithful to the canon.” David Nevins stated that the story will explore the genetically modified Spartans as they are in the midst of “reclaiming what it means to be human.“
The main role of Master Chief will be played by Pablo Schreiber, known as Pornstache on Orange is the New Black and Mad Sweeney on American Gods, though it’s unclear if and how much the facially anonymous hero will be removing his helmet. Natascha McElhone from Californication is in the role of Dr. Catherine Halsey, the head of the Spartan program and “mother” to the supersoldiers. In the video games, Halsey lends her mind and voice to the iconic Spartan AI Cortana, but in the show, Cortana will be voiced by Jen Taylor reprising her role from the img material.
Shabana Azmi, who is a superstar actress in India, will play the cold and ruthless Admiral Margaret Parangosky of the UNSC’s navy. Charlie Murphy from Peaky Blinders will play a brand new character named Makee, a human raised by the Covenant. Danny Sapani from Penny Dreadful is in the role as the brilliant UNSC commander Captain Jacob Keyes, while the role of his daughter Miranda will go to Olive Gray from Half Moon Investigations. Bokeem Woodbine, praised for his role in season 2 of Fargo, is cast as Halo’s former Spartan soldier Soren-066.