Work has resumed on Showtime's Halo TV series after a pandemic delay, but plans have changed a little. Showtime, Amblin Entertainment, and 343 Industries have revealed to IGN that voice actress Jen Taylor, who has played the role of Cortana in the Halo games ever since the release of Combat Evolved in 2001, is now set to reprise her role as Master Chief's A.I. companion in the series.
This is the first and so far only bit of Halo recasting news spurred by the production pause from earlier this year. Back in August 2019, Natascha McElhone (Californication, The Truman Show) was originally cast as both Cortana and Dr. Catherine Halsey in the show. "Due to scheduling difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," McElhone won't appear in Showtime's series as Cortana but will still be playing Halsey.
In Halo canon, Halsey created both the Spartan program and Cortana, basing the A.I. off of a scan of her own brain. That's why Jen Taylor has also played Halsey in the Halo games, first taking on the dual-role in 2010's Halo: Reach. While the two characters will now be portrayed by different actresses on the show, it's not known whether Taylor will appear on-screen as Cortana or if she is slated to do performance work for a CG character.
As the series re-enters production with new COVID-19 precautions, the rest of the casting remains unchanged and is full of newcomers to the Halo franchise. Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black, American Gods) will star as the Master Chief. Other familiar characters from the Halo games set to appear in the series include Captain Jacob Keyes (Danny Sapani, Black Panther) and Commander Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray, Sex Education). The Showtime series will also diverge from the story of the early Halo games and novels by introducing a handful of brand new Spartans and even a human Covenant sympathizer who was raised by the alien collective.
The debut of the Showtime series was originally set to take place in Q1 2021, but that was pushed back indefinitely with the summer production delay. With Halo Infinite now also delayed to a to-be-determined date in 2021, perhaps we're again set up to see the TV show and new game launch at around the same time.