Halo star Joseph Morgan: I've had creative meetings for a potential season three

Season two, now streaming on OSN+, is a global hit – and more could be on the way from the long-running franchise

Joseph Morgan, known for The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, joined Halo for its second season. Photo: Paramount+
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Two years ago, Joseph Morgan received a call from his old friend David Wiener. He had a new character he thought would suit him, he said, even better than the one they’d crafted together on the hit series Brave New World. Morgan, who gained international fame for his scene-stealing role in The Vampire Diaries, found his interest piqued, but it wasn’t until the script hit his inbox that he knew what he was in for.

There, in the subject line, were four letters that nearly knocked him onto the floor: Halo.

“I was blown away,” Morgan tells The National.

That reaction is well within reason. After all, it’s been nearly 23 years since Halo was released on the Xbox. It became not only one of the world's biggest video game franchises, but one of the biggest media properties in history, too. Across novels, comics, merchandise and more, the franchise has grossed more than $6 billion.

The long-gestating TV series is based on the games, which Morgan had devoutly played, and was something that he and the world had been anxiously awaiting. After its full debut in 2022, it became a worldwide hit, though many complained it did not quite capture the spirit of the multi-platform sci-fi epic on which it is based.

Wiener was brought in to right the ship. One of the first calls he made was to Morgan, who he knew had the right balance to tackle one of the franchise’s most multi-faceted characters: Colonel James Ackerson.

“I think he’s very misunderstood,” Morgan says.

Halo tells the story of a conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant in the 26th century, which becomes a fight for our species’ survival. While the hero is a super soldier known as Master Chief, Morgan plays his boss, a Machiavellian figure who will stop at nothing to ensure humanity wins.

“It’s easier to paint characters like that as evil,” Morgan explains. "But what’s driving him is a deep human concern. It’s for the greater good.

“It’s important when you’re portraying a character who could initially be seen as a villain to connect the audience to that character, to find relatable qualities. In episode three, I think it became very clear how human he really is."

He adds: “There’s a scene where he’s with his father, who’s struggling at home with dementia, and we witness his heart in those moments. That’s when I realised there is so much more to him than is on the surface. That’s when I was truly hooked."

Audiences have been hooked, too. Season two has been one of the world's most popular programmes this year, racking up billions of hours of viewing in the US alone, according to reports. It has also been better received than the first, with strong critics and audience scores that praise the narrative balance between action and exposition that is closer to the games.

The final episode, which was released over the weekend, is the best-rated episode of the season on IMDb, which bodes well for a potential season three. While it hasn’t been made official yet, Morgan confirms he and showrunner Wiener have already met to discuss where things will go next.

“David and I have met up a few times and I’m trying to squeeze all I can out of him about what future he sees for Ackerson. I have had a few suggestions myself,” he says.

“What’s been beautiful about this experience is that he’s very open to that kind of collaboration. It’s really a case of ‘best idea wins’. There’s no ego, it’s all in service of the story.

Halo is an incredibly expensive show to make, but it felt like a little theatre group. We were banging out scenes together, taking liberties with dialogue and throwing in extra lines to see what worked. David was very patient with that, and encouraging as well."

One thing Morgan and Wiener both agree on is that while the epic world-building of a franchise like Halo is a draw for many, if you don’t get the basic characterisation right, everything else will fall apart.

“I’ve had a lot of experience working in genre, horror, fantasy and science fiction, and while there’s so much to immerse yourselves in, you always have to ground it,” Morgan explains. "You have to connect people to these characters. The characters have to feel real, even in heightened situations.

“That’s two of the things Halo has been very successful in creating. People want to feel something. I want to feel something. That’s why I watch and that’s why I play – to feel connected. I want to feel the emotional journey of these characters through fantastic situations, and that’s what Halo always offered me. So it’s my duty to offer the same things to fans watching the show."

With the third season still a question mark, Morgan is now focused on some worldbuilding of his own with a project set in a familiar milieu for the man who starred as Klaus in The Originals.

“I have to be very careful how much I say, but my wife and I have something in development that we’ll be able to talk about again very soon,” he promises. “It’s another vampire project, and I’m very keen to get back into that world.”

Halo season two is streaming exclusively on OSN+ in the Middle East

Updated: March 24, 2024, 2:32 PM