'Halo' Series Will Be "PG-13, Almost R" For Violence, And Respect Established Canon [TCA 2019]

During his executive session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Showtime President of Entertainment Gary Levine announced that production on the network's Halo TV series will begin in Budapest this fall, to air in early 2021. After the session, Levine stuck around to speak with reporters, so we were able to ask him even more Halo questions.Find out Showtime's goal for the level of violence on Halo, whether we'll ever see star Pablo Schrieber's face while he's playing Master Chief, and how the series will navigate the canon of the Halo world.

Parental Guidance Is Suggested

Most video game movies have to go with a PG-13 rating to reach the largest possible fanbase of gamers, many of whom are kids and teenagers. Showtime has no restrictions on content, although they do keep the intended audience for Halo in mind. But they're not sanding off all of the edges: that audience includes fans of Showtime's Homeland and Dexter, too."We want to be able to satisfy the gamers, but this is a human portrait, so violence is going to have consequence," Levine said. "It will sort of belong in our PG-13 almost R universe of shows. I'm not sure what age you're talking about, but again, hopefully we'll satisfy the gamers and satisfy the Showtime drama watchers."Since Halo is set in space with soldiers facing off against alien creatures, they can probably get away with a tad more violence as long as it's not human on human. Look how violent The Lord of the Rings films are at PG-13 because they're fighting monsters.

You Don’t Hire Pablo Schrieber To Cover Him Up

Pablo Schrieber (The Wire, Orange is the New Black) will play Master Chief, and Levine showed a behind the scenes photo of Schrieber staring down Master Chief's helmet. But Levine isn't revealing whether he'll ever take the helmet off in the show."Wait and see," Levine said. "What I love about Pablo is he has the physicality to be a spartan, to be Master Chief, but he is A), a great dramatic actor and B), he's got such a twinkle in his eye. He's so good with wit and comedy. We want Master Chief to have that range and Pablo brings the range."How can we see the twinkle in his eye if he's wearing his helmet? "Maybe it's the twinkle in his mask, we'll see," Levine said.

All the Halo Canon Counts

Halo is not just video games: it's novels, comic books, and animation, too. And in this TV show, Showtime is respecting all of it. "Hopefully, you're going to get new information in our series, but we're not going to violate any of the things in the canon," Levine said. "The good news is, we've been working very closely with 343 through the entire development process. They are there both as a resource to tell us stuff we don't know, and also to make sure we're not violating anything big in the canon. So we're doing this with total confidence that the fans are going to embrace what we're doing."

The Showtime series stars Schreiber, Bokeem Woodbine, Natasha McElhone, Shabana Azmi, Bentley Kalu, Natasha Culzac, and Kate Kennedy, and is aiming for a 2021 premiere.