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Master Chief's TV Actor Explains This Controversial Choice

Adapting video games to TV and film is a hard tightrope to walk. Creators have to be able to give fans the fun, light-hearted experience they expect, while simultaneously injecting enough narrative development into the story to make it an engaging viewing experience. That is one of the many challenges Paramount is facing with its upcoming "Halo" adaptation. The trailer that was released earlier this year revealed that the show's story would be focusing on the origins of Master Chief and the war with the covenant – specifically on how the Spartans were created to be emotionless instruments of war who could be easily controlled by the military.

One of fans' biggest concerns about the upcoming series is that John-117 might not make for the most interesting protagonist. Most of his dialogue in the games comes down to roughly five-word sentences about how he's going to kill stuff. "I need a weapon" and, "thought I'd try shooting my way out," are among his most memorable quotes. That's really all you need for a first-person shooter where the goal is to give the player a power fantasy about being an unstoppable space warrior shooting his way through hordes of fanatic aliens, but it doesn't necessarily make for good television. That's why Paramount made the decision to shed the armor and flesh out the Chief's character. Pablo Schreiber, the actor who will be playing the character, shared some of his thoughts in a recent interview.

Schreiber defends choice to expand the Chief's character

Schreiber's interview comes courtesy of Stacey Henley at TheGamer. Henley mentioned that the trailer shows John-117 removing his armor and revealing the actor underneath. This is something that the character never did in the series and it seems many fans find the decision controversial. Schrieber responded to this, stating, "the armour is obviously the iconic part of Chief that we all know from the video game." But while the actor acknowledged that this works well in a first-person shooter video game, he questioned whether it would work in a TV show where the viewer is simply observing rather than engaging with the content. 

"There's not a lot of character development with him. He represents bravery and courage, but all the subtleties and nuance of who he is, as a human, we fill in the details ourselves as gamers." He then went on to explain that Master Chief's character needs to carry more of the narrative weight because the viewer is taking a more passive role. "You now are being asked as a player to put the controller down," he remarked, "to sit back on the couch and enjoy a universe that you have come to know and love for so long, but to experience it in a very different way."

Schreiber closed the interview by stating that he is personally a long-time fan of the series and that he hopes others are just as excited as he is to see the "Halo" universe in a new way.