'It's the only choice': Halo TV star addresses Master Chief face reveal backlash

Master Chief standing in a desert environment in the Halo TV series
Master Chief will remove his helmet in Paramount Plus' Halo TV series. (Image credit: Paramount)

Halo star Pablo Schreiber has addressed fans' concerns about Master Chief removing his helmet in the TV adaptation.

Speaking exclusively to TechRadar, Schreiber claimed that the decision to show John-117's face is necessary to help audiences empathise with the Spartan-II soldier.

Halo's diehard fanbase has criticised the sweeping changes that have been made for Paramount Plus' live-action adaptation of the beloved videogame series. Fans were quick to voice their displeasure over Cortana's redesign just hours after the show's first teaser arrived. And, after 343 Industries' Head of Transmedia Kiki Wolfkill confirmed that Chief's face would be shown during the TV series (per IGN), fans expressed further frustration at the creative decisions that had been taken.

Schreiber, though, isn't concerned by fans' backlash to John-117 removing his helmet for the Halo TV series. And, while the American Gods and Defending Jacob actor revealed that he "respects the opinions" of those who disagree with the move, he believes that the face reveal is essential for viewers to emotionally connect with Master Chief.

"One thing I learned very early on is that there's as many different opinions in the Halo universe as there are Halo fans," Schreiber said. "So obviously, you're not going to be able to please everybody. But what I would say is that we are tailoring an entertainment experience that's tailored to the medium that it's for.

"When you play a first person shooter, the way that a character is developed is very different than what's necessary when you're making long form television. To go on this journey with your protagonist, you're not going to be able to bring an audience along in a long form story without having access to a character's face, which tells you what they're feeling, how they think about everything. That access to a character's emotional life, over the course of time, is what makes you empathise and connect with a character.

"I'm sorry, but it's the only choice for long form storytelling in television. What I would say to anybody who disagrees with that, I totally respect that opinion. But it's a pretty basic place to start when you're talking about making a television show of quality."

Interestingly, the Halo TV series isn't the first time that we've seen John-117's face. The legendary videogame character is seen sans helmet in Halo: The Fall of Reach, an animated miniseries that accompanied copies of Halo 5: Guardians' Limited Edition in 2015. Admittedly, it's John's face as a child before he enters the Spartan program and becomes Master Chief, but it still counts.

There's also a blink and you'll miss it moment in Halo 4's legendary ending cutscene, which offers a close-up shot of John-117's world-weary eyes. Sure, it doesn't reveal his full face, but we get an idea of how he looks, based on his pale, white skin and the crow's feet around his eyes.

Despite these previous reveals, fans aren't happy that Master Chief's full face will be on show, even if the show exists in a separate timeline to the mainline games. The Halo TV series is still "rooted in canon" (per IGN), mind you, so it's understandable why many fans are against the idea of seeing John-117 remove his helmet.

Disney and Lucasfilm have proved it's possible to build a popular show around a helmeted character – just look at the success of The Mandalorian. The parallels end there, though, with Pedro Pascal's Din Djarin a wholly original character for the Star Wars TV show, whereas Master Chief is the beloved and established protagonist of a fan-favorite videogame series. The jury, then, is out on whether Master Chief's face reveal is a worthwhile endeavor.

For more Halo TV series-based content, check out our reviews round-up for the show. And check back in with TechRadar this weekend for our spoiler-free thoughts on its first two episodes.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.