Former 'Halo' Showtime Director: Expect an "Ambitious" Show
You needn’t bother Rupert Wyatt for spoilers about Halo, the upcoming Showtime series based on the iconic first-person shooters of the 2000s. Wyatt, director of Captive State, a new alien occupation thriller on out Friday, signed on as director of Halo but left production in December 2018 due to conflicts in scheduling.
“I was never the showrunner; I came on as director,” Wyatt tells *Inverse. “It was never really my role to be that person to get it to that place; that’s a two-year process. Unfortunately, on my timeline, it was too far apart. I was coming in and out as a director. It was never an opportunity for me to stay that long. The timeline superseded me.”
Still, Wyatt got to see up close what die-hard fans of Halo have been looking forward to: A live-action Halo TV show. The ten-episode series, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, is expected to debut in 2020.
In an interview with Inverse, Wyatt previews the “ambitious” and “immense” new sci-fi series that could very well become Showtime’s science-fiction answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones.
“There’s an immense TV show to be made there,” he says. “It’s an ambitious one for a show, and they’re gonna get to a place where they’re gonna line-budget with creative.”
Although it wasn’t Wyatt’s job to steer the series’ creative direction, he did have some takes on its unique mythology. Set in the 26th century, when Earth is at war against an alliance of intelligent aliens known as the “Covenant,” the story of Halo centers around Spartan-117 — also known as the “Master Chief” — a super-soldier bred by the Earth-based military outfit, the UNSC (United Nations Security Council).
The “Halos” that serve as the franchise’s namesake are artificial planets in the shape of giant rings. Created by an ancient race called the “Forerunners,” the Halo Arrays were made as an environment to study the violent parasitic species known as the “Flood.” The Halos are also powerful secret weapons; when activated, they can wipe out all living species in order to starve the Flood of its food supply. It’s this great power the Covenant hopes to use to fulfill a religious prophecy.
In spite of this dense canon, the series is among one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. Since its debut in 2001, with Halo: Combat Evolved on Microsoft’s Xbox console, over 70 million copies have sold worldwide, $5 billion generated in sales, and hundreds of “Game of the Year” accolades. The series is also credited for popularizing competitive online multiplayer on video game consoles; a reported six billion hours of Halo have been collectively logged on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.
In keeping with Wyatt’s favorite themes in science-fiction — that of oppression, resistance, and how capitalism can be the wedge that separates race and class — Wyatt saw potential in the universe to tell stories with which he’s familiar.
“There’s opportunities I would love to embrace as a storyteller,” Wyatt says. “The stories of insurrection. In Halo terms, the outer colonies being heavily taxed or exploited for the benefit of the inner colonies, Reach, and the chosen few.”
The “Reach” Wyatt refers to is a fictional planet where the UNSC trains children — kidnapped by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) — to become enhanced super-soldiers called Spartans. The planet was the primary setting for the fan-favorite tie-in novel Halo: The Fall of Reach, written by Eric Nylund, as well as the 2010 prequel game Halo: Reach. In virtually all of the Halo games (except 2009’s Halo 3: ODST), gamers play as adult Spartans who were trained on Reach.
“As for the aliens, the Covenant,” Wyatt continues, “that itself was a whole other world of that I was fascinated to explore.”
Today, Wyatt is no longer involved with Halo, but “I never want to say never in terms of being done with Halo,” he says.
“It’s an amazing series. When I got involved with Planet of the Apes, I was a fan, but I’d never immersed myself in the mythology of it. I came at it from a distance. I wasn’t a huge gamer, so when I started to get under the skin [of Halo] and read the literature, really understand the mechanics of the game, the storytelling, the backstories, it really opened up an incredible world to me.”
Captive State hits theaters on March 16.