Get used to it. When you think of the legendary Spartan soldier, John 117, aka Master Chief, you’re going to see Pablo Schreiber.
Pablo Schreiber Is Master Chief
After years of starts and stops and visionary changes, the long-awaited Showtime-produced Halo original series is set to arrive on Paramount Plus later this month, and it got the video game world buzzing.
The episodic show follows Pablos Schreiber as Master Chief, and his squad of Spartans dubbed the Silver Team during a conflict between the UNSC and a bunch of rebels who want no parts of what the United Space Command has to offer.
For the most part, the rebels fight valiantly but fear the UNSC’s best weapon, the Spartans. They spark fear in rebel fighters’ hearts due to their superhuman abilities, efficient combat skills, and stone-cold killer attitudes. The rebels don’t know, and many refuse to believe that the UNSC is fighting a war on two fronts, with humans and a bunch of bitter-ass aliens called the Covenant who are the real reason the Spartans exist.
Halo, the television series, picks up right when the Covenant makes their presence felt, and we get to see Master Chief and his squad kick some alien butt. Ahead of the show’s premiere at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Hip-Hop Wired spoke with Pablo Schreiber about his role in the show. We chopped it up about what it meant to him to become the face of the long faceless super-soldier, the “helmet removal controversy,” and, of course, what his favorite Halo game is.
Step into the interview below.
Hip-Hop Wired: You’re not only tasked with kicking Covenant ass in the show. You are the face of Master Chief now. How does it feel that your face will be attached to this character going forward?
Pablo Schreiber: It’s a huge honor and a huge responsibility. Obviously, the chief is a character that’s beloved by so many. That became evident right away when I was cast. The chatter on social immediately showed me how excited people were for this adaptation of this show, how many opinions there were about what people thought, how it should go, and what should be done. And so, it was clear from the beginning that I was in a position of great responsibility, and I take that very seriously. I’m very eager for fans to see it.
To be able to experience the Halo universe that so many people have loved for so long in a completely different way, in terms of media consumption, this is not a first-person shooter video game. It’s a television show long-form storytelling format. So we tried to make entertainment that would fit the format and take people on a journey where they could experience all the familiar Halo franchise, places, weapons, and tech that they love so much in completely new way. So we’re thrilled for people to get to see it, and we can’t wait.
It’s a huge honor and a huge responsibility. Obviously, the chief is a character that’s beloved by so many, that became evident right away when I was cast. The chatter on social immediately showed me how excited people were for this adaptation of this show, how many opinions there were about what people thought, how it should go, and what should be done.
HHW: Now you touched on a little bit. There was a bit of a controversy as far as Master Chief taking off his helmet in the show because, in the game, you don’t really get to see his face. The idea is that everyone is Master Chief as far as the game is concerned. So what are your thoughts on the whole little bit of backlash about that idea?
PS: Yeah, I don’t think it’s backlash or controversy. I always knew that was going to be a part of it because when you take a first-person shooter video game and make it into a television show. Just by the construct of what you’re doing, there’s 50 million people out there who have bought the game, who have played the game as the Master Chief. So whether they even know that that’s why they don’t want the helmet taken off or not, that’s what’s happening. That’s ownership that you have over the character because you’ve played the game for so long as this character, so everybody in their own way feels like they’re the chief, right? So I always knew that there was going people were going to get upset about taking the helmet off because you’re changing the course of the franchise. The good news is, I think when people see the show, they’ll realize why it was done.
It’s for a long-form television format. You really need to see the face of your character, the protagonist. We have multiple seasons of storytelling that we want to embark on. And the whole purpose of doing this show is to humanize John and to learn about the Master Chief in a way that you’ve never gotten to learn about in the games. The fact that this version of the television show is my version of the chief. [It] doesn’t take away from your version of the chief or from anybody else who has played the game and feels an ownership over it, and it doesn’t take away from Steve Downes’ version of the chief, who is the iconic voice of the game and has done such amazing work creating the character over the last 20 years. All of those things still exist, and all of those things are still relevant in the most beautiful way. This television show and my version of the chief should only add to the Halo universe in ways that I think everybody should eventually be happy with.
The fact that this version of the television show is my version of the chief. [It] doesn’t take away from your version of the chief or from anybody else who has played the game and feels an ownership over it, and it doesn’t take away from Steve Downes’ version of the chief, who is the iconic voice of the game and has done such amazing work creating the character over the last 20 years.
HHW: What’s your favorite Halo game?
PS: Well, the original (Halo: Combat Evolved), obviously it started in a big way. Because of the newness of the environment, because of how big it was at the time for what it was trying to establish and what it did establish. I think you can’t go wrong with the classic original game. But I’ve recently been playing the [Halo] Infinite campaign, and they’ve done amazing work on it. For a new gaming environment, the graphics are phenomenal. The story feels classic but new in a way. And so, I’m a big fan of the original and of Halo Infinite.
Halo, the series premieres exclusively on Paramount+ beginning March 24, also stars Natascha McElhone, Jen Taylor, Bokeem Woodbine, Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha, Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy, Danny Sapani, Ryan McParland, Burn Gorman, Fiona O’Shaughnessy.
Photo: Paramount+ / Halo
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