Natascha McElhone is no stranger to performing (watch her Ronin car chase against DeNiro), outer space (having been shepherd The first onethe Mars mission and haunted Clooney in Solaris) or scale (as part of reality warping Truman show).
Yet despite such credits, Paramount + Halo series broke new ground for the English actress.
Playing Dr. Catherine Halsey, a top UNSC (United Nations Space Command) scientist and the creator of the Spartan-II supersoldier program that spawned the iconic Master Chief (played by Pablo Schreiber), “There’s a ton of green screen to deal with, which for an actor is unrewarding. You come here to work with people, not air!” she notes with a chuckle. “But it has to be done, that’s where we are, and that in itself is really difficult.
“I mean, I had a scene where I play against myself“, she warns. “It sounds crazy, and I won’t tell you more than that, but I’m in a scene with myself, with the camera spinning 360 degrees around us, so there were tons really cool technical stuff that was definitely new to me.”
Premiering Thursday on Paramount+, the globally popular video game-inspired series is set in what’s called the “Silver Timeline,” which is adjacent to and therefore familiar to what Xbox fans know of the FPS and its many sequels. As Halo opens, “We just had another huge battle” (between the Spartans, extraterrestrial members of the Covenant, and rebel forces on the planet Madrigal) “and I’m being asked to come up with solutions” to improve the results, McElhone share. To that end, “I’ve already worked on my idea in secret” – an AI dubbed Cortana – “and it’s illegal, but I don’t care because I’m transgressive. I have a whole other idea of what what the future might be.
In other words, Dr. Halsey will often rub his colleagues and superiors the wrong way, while inviting intense debate about the ethics of his program.
“She has arrogance,” the actress says, “but if you’re a scientist, and if you look at her through the portal that she is, there’s a reason behind it all. We spend most of our resources by killing each other or waging war. progress? No, we have to advance our species, or we’re not going to survive.
“It’s a bit like a farmer who burns his crops so that they grow better the next year,” says McElhone. “She’s thinking, ‘I have to sacrifice a few lives, as far as the Spartans are concerned, in order to get through and get through the war, to get through this phase of our development as a species. “”
Given her role in the creation of the Spartan-II program, Halsey has a special relationship – well, as many connections as one can have with an emotionally mute super-soldier! – with Schreiber’s Master Chief aka John-117. And this dynamic may surprise pimple crushers.
“It’s interesting, because I think we’re going to a different place in the TV show than in the game, in that you can see her being surprised by John’s behavior,” McElhone warns. “There’s a point where he gets disobedient, and personally it’s a bit of a blow to her ego. She always thought he was easy to control and she was wrong.
Master Chief’s bold move in the premiere actually leaves his creator’s scientific mindset “nourished and excited, more than his ego bruised,” McElhone teases. “She is amazed by his change, and probably also a little worried about it. But she’s constantly, constantly exploring do not accept the status quo and breaking this.”
Interestingly, Halsey’s dynamic with the almost robotic John-117 is far warmer than her relationship with her own daughter, Dr. Miranda Keyes (played by Olive Gray), who is a UNSC commander.
“In terms of human relationships, Halsey isn’t invested in them like a normal person in our world might be. She’s not really interested in her offspring,” McElhone observes. how it can enhance and improve our brains and minds, and how we can better create predictive systems” – which is the foundation of his mysterious and controversial Cortana Project.
“His argument for building Cortana is that she will allow us to win the war because she will have the ability to calculate probability and outcomes…all those sorts of things that we can not, as human beings”, explains the portraitist of the scientists. “She’s very interested in tapping into consciousness, or intelligence that she thinks already exists in the universe…. Panpsychism…. It’s kind of fun to explore that and decide what I can get into. draw from it by attaching its motivation and what will eventually fall.
Having studied the science of fungi and mycelial networks versus neural networks for his role, McElhone ventures that “maybe that’s where [Halsey] got her ideas, and in fact, she’s been on psychedelics the whole time! That’s why she can see what no one else can see.
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