The main cast of Showtime’s Halo series has been announced, showing a mix of familiar characters and names new to the franchise, along with news that it will premiere some time in the first quarter of 2021. It follows the announcement in April that American Gods’ Pablo Schreiber will be playing the role of the iconic and stoic Master Chief.
The series will follow the game series’ story of a war between humanity and the Covenant, an alliance of alien races bound by religious zealotry. Although attempts at a large scale adaptation of the games have been variously undertaken since 2005 (and been plagued by issues, like the exit of director Rupert Wyratt), the series has been brought to live action twice previously. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was a 2012 web series made to market the game and expand the appeal of the franchise to newcomers, as well as act as a bridge to a potential movie. A prequel story set prior to the games, it follows a group of cadets in a military academy that is attacked by the Covenant, and a cadet unsure of his calling, Thomas Lasky, is inspired after being saved by Master Chief. Halo: Nightfall was released in 2014 as a prequel to Halo 5: Guardians, relating a covert intelligence operation Jameson Locke went on prior to his augmentation as a Spartan.
The series’ airing window in the first quarter of 2021 on Showtime and the news of the casting announcements for the Halo TV series comes from Deadline. Natascha McElhone will play the dual key roles of Dr. Catherine Halsey, the creator of the SPARTAN-II program that saw the creation of the first wave of active super soldiers which included Master Chief, and also the hologram interface of advanced AI system, Cortana. Bokeem Woodbine will play Soren-066, a failed Spartan candidate turned privateer operating on the fringes of human civilization. Shabana Azmi will play Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the ruthless and calculating commander of the naval intelligence branch of United Nations Space Command.
Also introduced are some new Spartan characters specially created for the series. Bentley Kalu will play Vannak-134, who acts as the second-in-command to Master Chief. Natasha Culzac will play Riz-028, a cybernetically enhanced soldier. Kate Kennedy will play Kai-125, a soldier as courageous and curious as she is deadly.
For Showtime's Halo series, it makes sense for Halsey and Cortana to be played by the same actor given that the latter as created via a clone of the former’s brain. Although given Cortana’s youthful appearance, it’s possible that de-aging technology will be used on McElhone when playing the AI. Having various Spartan characters created for the series could indicate that the lives of the super soldiers and their interaction with each other will be a significant part of the story, while the mention of Riz-028 possessing cybernetics suggests the existence of the SPARTAN-IV program within this Halo continuity. This could lead to the notion of the earlier generations of the super soldiers being considered obsolete, and internal discord adding further conflict to the sci-fi war story.