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The Halo franchise is 21-years old now, and for almost half of it, the creative team has been trying to develop Halo into a live-action movie and then TV series. The end product of that marathon of development and production will finally see the light of day as streaming series Halo, starring Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief, on March 24 at Paramount+.
At today's Paramount+ Television Critics Association virtual panel day, the executive team including series and 343 Industries executive producer Kiki Wolfkill addressed the long gestation period, admitting it came together in "fits and starts" because of the scale. She said it was about assembling the right team, which took time. And then there was the network swap from Showtime, who remains the producing studio, to Paramount+.
"It was always the intent to bring the world to life in different and authentic way," Wolfkill continues. "And that meant trying some things and failing reasonably fast and moving forward." Amblin Television executive producer Justin Falvey added, "It takes time to get it right. It's about recognizing realities and getting it right and being patient. But there’s been a constant of the same people in the same positions seeing it through."
However, the most changeable position has been the showrunner role, which was first filled by Kyle Killen (Awake) during early development and pre-production. For production and post-production, Steven Kane (The Last Ship) took the reins, but will not be staying with the series if it's picked up for a second season.
Kane explained his pending exit by contextualizing the role on the show. "Kyle carved out the massive canon story, and I came in late and benefited from work done before me," he said. "And I never thought it would be more than one season. I came in and fleshed it out and did my work and was in Hungary for two years [for production]. That's a long time away from family. But this has worked out as a career highlight. I'm finishing post in Los Angeles and will be doing so up until we air. If the show gets a Season 2, I’ll consult for a new team to come in with fresh eyes and I think that's great for the show. It's a big world and it takes ten-times the work and energy for average show."
Falvey added they always intended to create Halo as a series with multiple seasons, regardless of the large budgets and visual effects needs.
It also came up that most of the cast of the series are not gamers, but often back-seat watched various Halo games via spouses, siblings and friends. But for Schreiber, it was a blank slate because he grew up without TV or video games in his household. "It was a new journey that started when I was approached for this," the actor shared. "When it came to my first gameplay, I was really terrible. I have all this military training and have shot every gun out there but as soon as I was in [Halo] universe, I got killed by all the grunts. It was humbling but I'm better as I practice. But I still studied the cinematics of the games and the expanded literature with the books and graphic novels."
In closing, Kane reiterated that regardless of anyone's Halo experience, or lack of it, the streaming series was created to welcome everyone. "There are Easter eggs for the deep fans, even down to characters from books. We worked very hard to collaborate with 343 to reward the true fan and if you're not, there's still a great war story, a love story, and more. It's about heroism that comes in the trying not the succeeding."