The Halo TV series cast has been rounded out as the ambitious video game adaptation looks to finally start production later this year. Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black) was previously set in the lead role of Master Chief, but today Showtime announced that Natascha McElhone (Californication) and Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo) are also set for lead roles in the show while Shabana Azmi (Fire), Bentley Kalu (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Natasha Culzac (The Witcher) and Kate Kennedy (Catastrophe) round out the ensemble.
McElhone will be playing two characters in the Halo TV show: Dr. Catherine Halsey, the brilliant, conflicted and inscrutable creator of the Spartan supersoldiers and Cortana, the most advanced AI in human history, and potentially the key to the survival of the human race.
Woodbine is set to play Soren-066, a morally complex privateer at the fringes of human civilization whose fate will bring him into conflict with his former military masters and his old friend, the Master Chief. Azmi will play Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
The show is also introducing new characters that weren’t previously seen in the game franchise, including Vannak-134, a cybernetically augmented supersoldier who serves as Master Chief’s deputy (played by Kalu); Spartan Riz-028, a focused and professional killing machine (played by Culzac); and Spartan Kai-125, a courageous and curious Spartan supersoldier (played by Kennedy).
Halo is of course based on the Xbox game franchise of the same name, as 343 Industries has been trying to adapt Halo for years. At one point, a Halo movie was in the works with Neill Blomkamp directing and Peter Jackson producing.
The TV series adaptation has already been through a few ups and downs. Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) was previously attached to executive produce and direct multiple episodes before exiting the series six months later. Wyatt explained to us earlier this year that he left the show when it became clear that the time commitment would be massive, and that his creative freedom would be somewhat limited:
“It became clear that there was gonna be more time needed, I’m talking some months if not years, to align—as you probably know it’s massively ambitious, so the budget for that really needs to align with the scripts. We were still kind of working on that, but it ultimately wasn’t under my watch to be able to find that alignment. So there was a choice made by Showtime which was essentially to push things, and if I had been perhaps been the showrunner then I would have stayed on that journey for two or three years, but as a director of a finite number of episodes, there’s other things I really wanna do. So I was very sad to leave, but basically it wasn’t within the framework that I originally signed up for.”
Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood) replaced Wyatt as the show’s principal director, while Kyle Killen (Awake) is onboard as showrunner. Filming is now finally set to begin later this year in Budapest, but post-production will be lengthy—Halo isn’t set to debut on Showtime until the first quarter of 2021.
Still, with a cast in place it’s nice to see this show is finally, actually happening.