It makes sense, beyond fanservice. In a weird way.
IGN has revealed that the Showtime Halo TV series—planning to finally hit the network sometime next year—has recast one of the most important characters in the series: Cortana, the A.I. companion of the franchise’s iconic supersoldier hero, John-117 (better known as the Master Chief, and played by Pablo Schrieber on the show). Cortana will now be played, as she has been since the original Halo: Combat Evolved on the first Xbox, by Jen Taylor.
Cortana was previously going to be played by Natascha McElhone, who will continue to be in the series as Dr. Catherine Halsey, the scientist who spearheaded the ethically questionable supersoldier program that created John and his fellow Spartans. Long story short, Halsey’s responsible for a lot—a lot—of child abduction, and said program was to create an off-the-books black ops force to serve as willing tools of the centralized United Earth state as it cracked down on rebellion colonial insurrections, and, oh my god, basically none of this in the games. Halo lore is wiiiiiiild, and I should stop gabbing before my brain leaks out. Sorry.
Anyway! Dr. Halsey also created Cortana—played by Taylor in her in-game appearances in Halo: Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians—and shares a general likeness, personality, and voice with her. In the fiction, Cortana’s A.I. subroutines were based off scans of Halsey’s own brain. But due to scheduling complications brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, McElhone can no longer provide the voicework for Showtime’s version of Cortana—so she will remain as Halsey while Taylor voices her A.I. counterpart. So now they’re sort of two different people! Despite being based on the same person! And one of them is now the same as they were in the game!
It’s...a lot. Like I said. The story of these games beyond “Master Chief gotta shoot them aliens” is a lot. But, even if it’s come about in a strange, roundabout way, it’s cool to see Cortana’s original voice be a part of this new take on the franchise.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.