Given the passionate fanbases that video games attract and the spotty track record of Hollywood adaptations, taking on the role of an iconic video game character can be intimidating for any actor. That is especially true for “Halo” star Pablo Schreiber, who also has to deal with the fact that fans have been waiting two decades for an adaptation of the beloved game.
Schreiber plays Master Chief, the franchise’s anonymous protagonist who gamers have been embodying since the franchise launched in 2001. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor opened up about the challenges of playing a character that is beloved despite having very little backstory.
“There’s this expectation because a huge portion of the audience has played the game believing they are the Master Chief,” he said. “And now here I am, attempting to play it.”
Schreiber went on to say that he had to strike a very delicate balance between adding depth to the character and maintaining the image that gamers had of him in their minds. “It’s a very tight box, especially early in the series,” he said. “Trying to find the sweet spot of restraint and figure out this guy’s inner life.”
While Schreiber’s preparations for the role may have been challenging, it was nothing compared to the physical difficulties of filming in his Master Chief costume. As it turns out, armor that has been optimized for alien warfare leaves a lot to be desired in the comfort department.
“It’s 50 pounds of plastic and the suit is meant to make you superhuman — it enhances the Spartan’s capability for his performance tenfold,” he said. “In reality, it’s the opposite. It’s a challenge to manipulate a cumbersome costume and find ways to shoot it so it looks like you’re super capable.”
However, despite all of the physical and artistic challenges of playing Master Chief, Schreiber is extremely optimistic about the finished product. Not only does he think that the show can break the curse of poorly received video game adaptations, he believes “Halo” can shake that label altogether.
“There’s so much opportunity for transcending being a sci-fi show, a superhero show or a video game show and just be legitimately great television that happens to be exploring those genres.”
“Halo” is set to premiere on Paramount+ on March 24.