Fans of the "HALO" franchise have something more than just the NFL's AFC Championship game (Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs) to look forward to this Sunday. Because during halftime of the game, they'll get a chance to check out the official trailer for Paramount+ & 343 Industries' Pablo Schreiber (American Gods)-starring series take on the video game franchise. But that doesn't mean they have to wait until then to learn more about the upcoming series, not with Alex Wakeford checking in from HALO Waypoint with the first of what looks to be a series of "debriefings" before the series debuts later this year. First up, series executive producer & head of transmedia Kiki Wolfkill (343 Industries) offers an update on how production is going. From there, series executive producer & franchise creative director Frank O'Connor (343 Industries) offered a detailed explanation of the series' "Silver Timeline" and how it will run separate from the video game's timeline (though they may influence each other along the way). Here are some of the highlights (and make sure to check out the entire post for a great analysis of the first-look trailer that was previously released)
Wolfkill Offers Season 1 Production Update: "We are deep in post-production and finishing on the show. Building a world at the scope and scale of the Halo universe means extensive VFX which is an intensive but awesome process and arguably my favorite part. Melding our sci-fi elements with real people and environments and ensuring they feel grounded and believable is a very different endeavor from creating the virtual environments of our games," Wolfkill explains while sharing an update on how work is going. And while fans will be seeing "WAY more on Sunday" when it comes to the VFX, Wolfkill emphasizes that work is still be done on the final product: "Releasing a trailer at this stage means that not all is completely final, and we will continue to refine and tweak until we are yelled at to put our pencils down, but we are excited to show you where we are."
O'Connor Offers a Deep Dive Into What the "Silver Timeline" Is & How It Impacts the "HALO" Universe: Here's how O'Connor was able to break down the importance of the series and video games universes having their own distinct canon while also clarifying that two separate timelines don't mean they won't still "borrow" from each other creatively if it's for the benefit of one without sacrificing the other:
"We've been working on the idea of a Halo TV series for a long time, but one of the first things we realized when we started working with writers and directors was that there were some real dangers of mapping a totally different medium – games – to a linear narrative format, TV or movie for that matter. Not just because of the differences in approach and perspective that make sense for each medium, but also because we want to make sure that we're not forcing either the game or the show to go in completely unnatural directions.
By the same token, Halo's core canon is extremely important to us and our fans, and we wanted to think of the simplest and most productive way to make sure we didn't 'break' either medium by trying to force square pegs into round holes. The idea of the 'Silver Timeline' kept resurfacing throughout that process. We could compare the choice we landed on to other IPs, but that might set faulty or negative expectations and would likely oversimplify our intent.
Basically, we want to use the existing Halo lore, history, canon, and characters wherever they make sense for a linear narrative, but also separate the two distinctly so that we don't invalidate the core canon or do unnatural things to force a first-person video game into an ensemble TV show. The game canon and its extended lore in novels, comics, and other outlets is core, original, and will continue unbroken for as long as we make Halo games.
To be clear: these will be two parallel, VERY similar, but ultimately separate timelines whose main events and characters will intersect and align throughout their very different cadences.
The TV show timeline – the 'Silver Timeline' – is grounded in the universe, characters, and events of what's been established in core canon, but will differ in subtle and not so subtle ways in order to tell a grounded, human story, set in the profoundly established Halo universe. Where differences and branches arise, they will do so in ways that make sense for the show, meaning that while many events, origins, character arcs, and outcomes will map to the Halo story fans know, there will be surprises, differences, and twists that will run parallel, but not identically to core canon.
A simplistic example of both the kind of difference – and an underlying reason for that difference – will be apparent from the first episode, that the 'coincidence' of Chief and Cortana simply stumbling across the Halo ring is gone. Many of the same established events will drive the story to the same places and outcomes, but how they get there will feel markedly different, but logical to the events described. This means that for deep lore fans, there will be familiarity and surprise, but newcomers will end up with a very similar understanding of the characters' origins, ambitions, and motivations – as well as places, names, and ideas."
In its adaptation for Paramount+, HALO will take place in the universe that first came to be in 2001 with the launch of Xbox's first "Halo" game. Dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant, HALO the series will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure, and a richly imagined vision of the future.
Halo stars Pablo Schreiber (American Gods) as the Master Chief, Spartan-117; Natascha McElhone (Californication) as Dr. Halsey, the brilliant, conflicted & inscrutable creator of the Spartan super-soldiers; and Jen Taylor ("Halo" game series, RWBY) as Cortana, the most advanced AI in human history, and potentially the key to the survival of the human race. Additional stars include Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo), Shabana Azmi (Fire), Natasha Culzac (The Witcher), Olive Gray (Half Moon Investigations), Yerin Ha (Reef Break), Bentley Kalu (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Kate Kennedy (Catastrophe), Charlie Murphy (Peaky Blinders), and Danny Sapani (Penny Dreadful). Also joining the cast as original characters are Ryan McParland (6Degrees), Burn Gorman (The Expanse), and Fiona O'Shaughnessy (Nina Forever).
Produced by Paramount+ in partnership with 343 Industries, along with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television, Halo is executive produced by Steven Kane, alongside Spielberg, Darryl Frank, and Justin Falvey for Amblin Television in partnership with 343 Industries, director Otto Bathurst and Toby Leslie for One Big Picture, and Kyle Killen and Scott Pennington for Chapter Eleven. Kiki Wolfkill, Frank O'Connor, and Bonnie Ross serve as executive producers for 343 Industries. The series is distributed internationally by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.