The ‘Halo’ franchise revolves around the Spartans, super soldiers who defend the galaxy against an alien force known as the Covenant. In the new Paramount Plus TV series, one of the Spartans is played by Kate Kennedy, who talked to Variety about her experience gearing up in the armor for the show.
“It was really empowering, I loved entering set everyday wearing the suit,” Kennedy told Variety on the red carpet of the “Halo” premiere this Wednesday. “I felt so badass. And being around such incredible women, and [executive producer] Kiki Wolfkill at the helm, they’re all so impressive, and I’m in awe of all of them.”
Kennedy also told Variety that the suit also helped protect her from sustaining injuries during filming.
“On day one, Pablo [Schreiber] has a video actually, I’m sure it will come to surface, of me totally hitting deck, just face-plant in the cave,” Kennedy said. “And I magically didn’t feel a thing. So the suits work.”
Kennedy was joined by the rest of the cast and crew of “Halo” for the show’s premiere at the Hollywood Legion Theater in Los Angeles. In addition to the actors from the show walking the carpet, people wearing Spartan and Covenant costumes based on the show’s designs also stormed the premiere for photo-ops.
Like many video games, “Halo” is often perceived as a heavily male-focused series. The show, however, has a diverse, majority-female cast. According to Kiki Wolfkill, executive producer of the show and head of transmedia efforts at “Halo” video game developer 343 Industries, one of the priorities of the series was to ensure that it included the female characters that were already in the video games, plus adding new ones for fans to fall in love with.
“‘Halo’ has always had strong female characters, in the extended fiction and the lore, and even Cortana and Halsey and Miranda Keyes, those are all characters who come straight from canon,” Wolfkill told Variety. “It’s always been important to represent strong female characters and diversity. This is sci-fi; we get to picture the world how we think it should be when it comes to things like that. So being able to bring that life, and add new characters with the show was amazing.”
In the series, acclaimed Indian actor Shabana Azmi plays the crucial character of Admiral Margaret Parangosky. According to Azmi, it was her casting on the show that helped her finally impress one of the most important people in her life: her nephew.
“I wasn’t aware of the games, but the interesting thing is that when I signed on for it, my little nephew, who was then 12, who had never given me time of day, suddenly looked at me with stars in his eyes and said ‘Oh my god, I have a cool aunt!’” Azmi told Variety. “And from then on, the ‘Halo’ world just descended upon me.”
Azmi told Variety that “Halo” practiced colorblind casting, choosing actors for the show based on talent regardless of their background, which she found refreshing and freeing as an actor.
“Why is it automatically assumed that the best parts must go to the Caucasians?” Azmi said at the premiere. “Why is it automatically assumed that they are the mainstream? As the world shrinks and becomes a global village, surely we should be able to bring in greater inclusivity. Not only does it make moral sense, but it also makes great economic sense. Because then you bring on board fans of different stars … and it’s very evident in ‘Halo,’ because nobody is being cast because of their ethnicity. There’s no pressure in speaking a certain way, everybody speaks exactly the way that they do. And that’s a change that is happening, and it’s a happy change.”
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