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Paramount's Halo - What We Know So Far

With each passing month, "Halo" fans grow closer and closer to finally getting a live-action television series. Paramount+ plans to roll out its hotly-anticipated video game adaptation sometime next year, but there's already loads of information out right now about the project and it's upcoming release, which has been in the works for nearly a decade now. ViacomCBS has started to discuss the series with increasing frequency, and the late 2021 release of "Halo Infinite" on Xbox will surely spark even more conversation about the upcoming Paramount+ series.

The first-person shooter saga is one of the most popular video game franchises in history, with its main star Master Chief still being one of the most iconic characters in gaming today. The Xbox exclusive first debuted in 2001 under the title "Halo: Combat Evolved" and included more than 10 sequels. So far, according to Deadline, there have been over 81 million games sold in the entire series. 

So what should fans expect from the live-action version of "Halo," exactly? ViacomCBS made headlines earlier this year by moving the show from Showtime to Paramount+ (via Deadline), the network's replacement for CBS All Access. And they also reduced the initial order of 10 hour-long episodes to nine. It's been a wild and tumultuous ride so far, with execs calling "Halo" CBS' most ambitious project to date. Here's everything we know so far about it. 

What is the release date for Halo?

While plans can always change — especially in the case of "Halo" — it looks like Paramount+'s live adaptation will debut in the first quarter of 2022. 

A release had originally been planned for Showtime in Q1 of 2021, but production was halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Nov. 2020, the series' Twitter account confirmed that filming had resumed. "We're back on the #Halo set and #MakingMasterChief," a tweet read, showing series star Pablo Schrieber donning a Master Chief mask.

It's unclear when "Halo" will wrap or if it's already in post-production, but it's good sign that ViacomCBS has started talking about the series publicly. According to execs, bringing it to Paramount+ was ultimately the final piece needed to complete the developmental puzzle that was "Halo." 

"Look, we started developing Halo seven years ago when there was no Paramount+ or even the glimmer of an idea about it. And it was always a bit of an odd fit," explained Showtime Entertainment co-president Gary Levine at the Television Critics Association's 2021 summer tour. "We worked real hard over all those years, as Jana has said, to find ways that it could fit. But when Paramount+ emerged, you know, it seemed like it was a better fit for Paramount+."

Who is in the cast of Halo?

Of course, what would a "Halo" TV series be without Master Chief and his legendary AI assistant Cortana? The two main characters have already been cast, along with several other memorable faces from the franchise. As mentioned before, actor Pablo Schrieber will be playing Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. He's best known for his role as Nick Sobotka in Season 2 of "The Wire" and other popular shows like "American Gods" and "Orange Is the New Black." 

Cortana was originally going to be played by Natascha McElhone, who planned to pull double-duty and portray Dr. Catherine Halsey as well. However, the part was recast in Nov. 2020. Video game fans rejoiced after learning that longtime "Halo" voice actress Jen Taylor, who played Cortana originally, would be taking over the role. Complications caused by COVID were said to have prevented McElhone from "fulfilling" the part, according to IGN. It's unclear if Taylor will just be providing her voice or if she'll also be appearing.

Other actors who have been selected for "Halo" include Bokeem Woodbine ("Fargo", "Spider-Man: Homecoming") as Soren-066 and Indian star Shabana Azmi as Admiral and Naval Intelligence head Margaret Parangosky. In addition, at least three original Spartans have been cast. They'll be played by Bentley Kalu ("Avengers: Age of Ultron"), Natasha Culzac ("The Witcher"), and Kate Kennedy ("Catastrophe").

What is the plot of Halo?

Details surrounding the storyline of Paramount+'s "Halo" have been shrouded in mystery, but there are a few things we know. 

At the previously mentioned TCA summer tour, ViacomCBS execs described the plot as being "an epic, 26th century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant." The show would "lean deeply on personal stories, action, adventure, and a richly imagined version of the future," while being "aimed at both 'Halo' fans and audiences not familiar with 'Halo' alike." 

As video gamers know, the overall plot of "Halo" deals with mankind's intergalactic battle against an alien horde known as the Covenant. It seems that the Paramount+ series won't deviate much from this, though it sounds like some things from the games could be altered or changed. One aspect that could be explored is Master Chief's backstory and origins, or the entire Spartan program as a whole. 

Showtime offered a small glimpse into the possible "Halo" storyline back in 2019 with a press description of the new Spartans being introduced. "British actor Kalu will play Spartan Vannak-134, a cybernetically augmented supersoldier conscripted at childhood who serves as the defacto deputy to the Master Chief," Showtime said. "British actress Culzac will star in the role of Spartan Riz-028 — a focused, professional and deadly, cybernetically enhanced killing machine. Kennedy stars as Spartan Kai-125, an all-new courageous, curious and deadly Spartan supersoldier."

Any additional twists that the series may add to the game's storyline have yet to be revealed.