Halo TV executive producer Kiki Wolfkill defends Cortana’s live-action design change for the upcoming series by comparing to the video games.
Halo TV executive producer Kiki Wolfkill defends Cortana’s live-action design change for the upcoming series by comparing to the video games. Development on an adaptation of Bungie and 343 Industries’ action video game franchise has languished in hell for well over a decade, beginning as a film in the early ’00s before transitioning to television in 2013 with Steven Spielberg attached to produce. The small-screen incarnation of Halo would still take nearly a decade to get off the ground, changing hands between studios, directors and showrunners before finally landing at Paramount+.
Set in the 26th century, Halo explores the violent conflict between humanity and the Covenant, a theocratic alliance of multiple alien races who see humanity as an affront to their gods known as the Forerunners and engage in a genocidal holy war. In an effort to defend various colonies throughout the galaxy, the United Nations Space Command develop a team of genetically enhanced supersoldiers known as Spartans led by Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. Pablo Schreiber is bringing the iconic Master Chief to life for Halo alongside Jen Taylor reprising her role as AI program Cortana, Natascha McElhone, Yerin Ha, Charlie Murphy, Shabana Azmi, Bokeem Woodbine, Natasha Culzac and Bentley Calu.
In honor of the show’s upcoming premiere, GamesRadar+ caught up with 343 Industries’ Kiki Wolfkill to discuss the Halo TV adaptation. When asked about the controversy surrounding Cortana’s live-action design change, the executive producer defended the character’s new look in the series, noting that the AI program underwent design changes in the games themselves and that her design has always stemmed from finding a way to adapt her to the environment of the story. See what Wolfkill explained below:
“It’s so funny, because we change her design for every game. And a lot of that is driven by technology. A lot of the design changes as we progress[ed] through the game generations was because we had access to better graphics, technology, more pixels, and more effects. And so it’s always been about adapting Cortana to the environment. In this situation, it’s so very different from the games in that she has to feel real. And by that, I don’t mean feel like a real human. She has to feel like a real AI, a real hologram, and be a character that real people are acting against… That was really the impetus in designing her – how do we make her feel very tangible in this Halo world?”
Though the decision to retain original voice actress Jen Taylor for the role has been largely well received by fans of the games, the first Halo TV trailer did draw plenty of controversy for the character’s live-action design change. The new incarnation her displayed a similar shorter hairstyle to that of her game counterpart her, though she lacked the blue-colored skin and technological design that she had carried through the majority of her appearances her. Wolfkill’s, who is an executive producer for the Halo franchise at 343 Industries, defense of the live-action design change does serve as an understandable argument for the new look, namely as Cortana has evolved throughout the various games to embody new looks including moving away from a purple color scheme in the early games to her iconic blue hue and becoming generally more dressed in recent titles.
Cortana’s live-action design change for the Halo TV show isn’t the only point of controversy amongst fans of the franchise, with the confirmation of seeing Master Chief without his helmet has left a bad taste in many’s mouths given this was absent from the games. However, with Wolfkill previously noting that the series is not a direct adaptation of the games but rather a non-canon story separate from the source material, both Cortana’s new look and Master Chief’s face reveal could serve as understandable choices to separate the show from the games. Only time will tell how audiences respond to the new directions when Halo premieres on Paramount+ on March 24.
More: Why Halo Fans Dislike Cortana’s Live-Action Show Non-Blue Redesign
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