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'Halo' Season 2 on Paramount+: Pablo Schreiber praises 'darker' and 'impactful' new season

"You can't tell that story by being polite and holding back," Schreiber said

The series Halo is back on Paramount+, under new showrunner David Wiener, and the show's star, Pablo Schreiber who plays Master Chief John-117, praised Wiener's vision for Season 2 as "a really awesome way to go."

"I think the tone is a lot darker. I think it feels more immediate, more impactful," Schreiber (originally from British Columbia) told Yahoo Canada. "A lot of the action sequences are more subjective, put inside the battles as opposed to kind of seeing them from afar, and that goes a long way to making you feel like you're a part of this thing that's constantly evolving."

Where to watch Halo: Paramount+
Halo Season 2 release date: Feb. 8
Number of episodes: 8
Cast: Pablo Schreiber, Joseph Morgan, Cristina Rodlo, Natascha McElhone, Shabana Azmi, Jen Taylor, Bokeem Woodbine, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha, Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy, Danny Sapani

Paramount+

Watch Halo on Paramount+ on Thursdays with 7 days free, then $9.99/month

$10 at Paramount+

Right from the very first moments of the first episode, Season 2 of Halo does feel different from the original season, very much leaning into the action.

At the core of the story is this element of war, the team of Spartans up against the threat of aliens, the Covenant. That war element is very much front and centre in this season.

"When David came in he said, 'I want to make an eight episode war movie,'" Schreiber revealed. "I think that's what he did and ... it should feel that immediate, and it should feel that impactful."

"That's ultimately the story we're telling, ... the story of an existential battle for the survival of humanity, in a war against a massive existential alien threat. And you can't tell that story by being polite and holding back, you have to go. You have to get into the nitty gritty. You have to get into it and you have to tell it from the soldiers perspective. That, for me, as somebody who has a lot of friends who have served and I've done other movies that have strong military themes, ... the psychology of war and the psychology of a soldier is a really important note in this project. So I wanted to do it right."

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Episode 5, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+ 2024. (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+)
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Episode 5, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+ 2024. (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+)

What's interesting about Master Chief in the beginning of the season, from a psychological perspective, is that there is a feeling of isolation, specifically with the separation of Cortana from Master Chief, and James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) replacing Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone).

"It's an interesting psychological note, judging your main character's sanity is an interesting cinematic trope that we've seen before, and so I enjoyed that arc," Schreiber said. "It only lasts for the first sort of four episodes before you come back to believing Master Chief, ... but it's definitely an interesting road to head down."

"It becomes clear really quickly that Ackerson's the new boss and he's taken over the Spartan program from Halsey, and John immediately begins to question the decisions he's making around deployments, and why they're being used the way they are."

Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chiefe in Halo, streaming on Paramount+ (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+)
Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chiefe in Halo, streaming on Paramount+ (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+)

'There were not many opportunities to differentiate themselves from the rest'

While both seasons of Halo are very much centred around Schreiber's character, the actor was particularly pleased that in Season 2, the supporting cast have more opportunities to really develop their characters into unique components of the story.

"I work so closely with all of these people, one of my great pleasures being the lead of the show is to get to see other people shine, and to get to see other people do amazing work around me," Schreiber said. "In the first season, especially for the other members of the silver team, ... there were not many opportunities to differentiate themselves from the rest, and that was something that David wanted to do right away when he came in and said, we need to make sure these other characters have their own life and have their own personality."

"For me, to get to watch Kate Kennedy and Natasha Culzac and Bentley Kalu, who worked so hard in the first season, for maybe not quite that much glory, have their own moments and begin to differentiate their characters from the others. For me, one of the great pleasures of the season is to see these guys shine."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 23: Natasha Culzac attends the premiere of the Paramount+ new series
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 23: Natasha Culzac attends the premiere of the Paramount+ new series "HALO" at Hollywood Legion Theater on March 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Schreiber highlighted that Culzac, in particular, gives a performance that will make the audience "blown away" as Season 2 progresses.

"Her arc as Riz is just as phenomenal. She does amazing work," Schreiber stressed. "They all do amazing, work, but Natasha really stands out as someone who took a character arc and just ran with it."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07: Pablo Schreiber (R) and guests attend
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07: Pablo Schreiber (R) and guests attend "Halo" Fan Screening at Nya Studios on February 07, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Paramount+)

'Halo' fandom: 'They feel it deeply and they express their opinions'

The Halo fandom started well before the series started and the first season proved that fans of the franchise are particularly passionate about the execution of all details of the show, which included some initial criticism about how often Schreiber's Master Chief was seen without a helmet.

Reflecting on the vocal fans of Halo, Schreiber said it's actually a large part of why he took the role of Master Chief in the first place.

"I could see how passionate the fan base was," Schreiber said. "I could see how many people loved this franchise so deeply, whether they're happy with the product we make, or whether they're not happy with the product we make, they feel it deeply and they express their opinions."

"There can be negatives that come out of it, in terms of online chatter and all that stuff. ... I take it as a sign that people are engaged with it, that people are having opinions about it, and that people really love and want to protect the thing that they love,"