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 (opens in new tab)), fans expressed further frustration at the creative decisions that had been taken.
Below is a quote from one of the producers on WHY THEY ARE GOING TO REVEAL MASTER CHIEF'S FACE in the new #Halo show. I have to say, i really disagree. But I'm curious, is there any Halo fan asking for this? With good writing you can build a character and never show their face. pic.twitter.com/ruzasAIvdMFebruary 23, 2022
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."
Silver Team, on me! Stream #HaloTheSeries March 24 exclusively on @ParamountPlus. pic.twitter.com/LzuHHETfS3March 14, 2022
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 (opens in new tab)), 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.