From the very beginning, fans have wondered what Master Chief looks like under that helmet, and it’s finally coming off in the upcoming Halo TV show. While this has upset some fans, it turns out the showrunners are doing it for a good reason.
The decision to show Master Chief’s face has been the most controversial aspect of the upcoming Paramount+ Halo TV show which premieres on March 24. But the show’s executive producers as well as Master Chief star Pablo Schreiber dished about the reasons why the helmet has to come off in an interview with GameSpot.
According to executive producer and Halo game dev veteran Kiki Wilfkill, “We set out to tell a story about Master Chief — and specifically to tell a story about John.” Accordingly, “John is someone that we explore in the books, not the side of him that we tend to explore in the games. And so that was a decision that the story really made. And it just became so clear, as we were getting into what that journey would look like, and what it means for John to discover his humanity and his place in the world and his place in the UNSC that you had to be able to see him outside of the armor and without the helmet.”
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Part of exploring John’s origin is humanizing him, and it’s tough to do that if he stays as a voice behind a big green mask. And if you’re worried the show will treat this as some kind of throwaway joke or gag, you don’t have to be.
As executive producer Steven Kane puts it, “We knew full well that we were going to be treating this moment with the respect it deserved.” As a result of that desire, “we kind of leaned into it and really made the entire season about that moment, even though there are eight more episodes because the show really is about getting into the helmet, getting behind the visor, and seeing John. And then to make that even more integral we made this season really about John figuring out who John is. And so John’s on the journey with us.”
And nobody is more onboard with the need to unmask Chief than his star, Pablo Schreiber. As he said, “For long-form television storytelling format, it’s just essential that you have access to the face so [that] you have access to the character’s interior life,” he explained. “So [that] an audience can go along with the character for the long haul of a journey. You really need to know your character in order to kind of break down the barrier between them.”
Continuing, Shrieber said, “Master Chief, the character was created for a first-person shooter video game where you’re asked to believe that you are the Chief. And so the character is created in a very vague and opaque way, a man of few words. He’s essentially a symbol for all of us. He’s a symbol for bravery, for courage, for effectiveness under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. His dry sense of humor in tough times. So those elements, the symbolic elements of the character, were sacred and had to be there. And everything else in the video game, you’re meant to fill in with your own personality, so that you can feel like you’re him going through the game.”
This is a very important point. To a very real degree, Chief has always been a player surrogate, and this allows gamers to determine how he really feels about everyone from the Covenant to Cortana. With this TV show being set in its own universe, it’s important to have Chief be his own character. Taking off the helmet both humanizes the hero while sending a not-so-subtle message: no matter how long you’ve been playing, this isn’t necessarily the Chief you know.
But will we love this new portrayal of Chief? That’s up to viewers to decide. The Halo TV show premieres this Thursday on Paramount+. What are you hoping to see in this show? Let us know in the comments!