SDCC 2014: Mike Colter, Christina Chong Talk Halo: Nightfall

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SDCC 2014: Mike Colter, Christina Chong Talk Halo: Nightfall
Posted by Wilson Morales

August 1, 2014

Halo Nightfall poster

Recently, Blackfilm.com attended the Halo: Nightfall panel that took place at San Diego Comic Con. On stage where 343 Industries’ Kiki Wolfkill and Frank O’Connor, Scott Free’s David Zucker and actors Mike Colter and Christina Chong..

In the series, Colter plays Jameson Locke, an agent of the Office of Naval Intelligence, who’s dispatched with a team to investigate terrorist activities on a distant colony world. Once there, though they encounter a hellish, ancient artifact that turns the mission into a nightmare. The film takes place between the events of Halo 4 and the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians, in which Locke will play an integral role.

Sergio Mimica-Gezzan will direct the film with ‘Prison Break’ creator Paul Schuering writing the script. Ridley Scott amd David Zucker are executive producing the project, which is said to be live action and somewhat similar to Machinima’s Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn webseries.

During the panel discussion, it was revealed that Colter would also be voicing the character in the video game Halo 5: Guardians.

SDCC 2014 Halo Nightfall Mike Colter and Christina Chong

Here’s some of highlights of what Colter, Chong and Connor had to say at the panel.

How did this come about for you?

Mike Colter: I saw the script and that’s where it started. When I first saw the sides, which were a lot, and not to mention that the name Locke wasn’t used until after production was shot. It was Locke forever, but in the script it was called Marlowe, which had leaked several times. The codename was Marlowe, which I grew fond of. When I got the script, I really liked the character. I just really gelled with his point of view, and you gamers will see in the film, and hopefully when you start playing the game, you will get connected with Locke’s character. As you experience the game, you will experience it through his point of view and how he interprets things because his story is an origin story and what we do as actors is tell stories from the point of view from the character. Filmmaking is about character respective and development of character and this is an origin story. I was really drawn to it because of that. It was a character that showed vulnerability. He acted with logic. He was a strong but was still in the developmental stage. He had a journey that he was going to go on and I was really interested in seeing where he was going to go. That’s what drew me to this project. I had heard of Halo before, so Halo is a huge success and I want to be part of something this big.

Halo Nightfall Mike Colter and Christina Chong

Christina Chong: I went to the audition and got the role. I hadn’t heard of Halo; interesting enough, I brought my manager a video game of Halo a couple of years back. I was excited when I got the role. It was action. I didn’t know how big it was and when I told him I got this job in Halo, he was like, “What? You got Halo?” Now, I know how huge it is and how amazing it. I play Macer, who’s a Sedra soldier and she’s brave, intelligent, smart, and proud of her people, her home. Although she’s very loyal to her commanding officer Aken, but she’s also very ambitious and when she meets the ONI guys, she realizes that this is an opportunity for her to prove herself and prove that she can be an elite soldier too. Slowly, throughout the show, she and Marlowe have friction. Correction, Locke. This is how bad it was throughout the shoot. We were all calling him Marlowe but it’s Locke. There’s some friction in the beginning because the other guys see her as a private first class soldier and nothing more. She knows she’s more than that. She brings it up and  I think Locke respects her for that and slowly the trust between the two characters begins to grow, which sees them through the hard times.

Halo Nightfall Mike Colter, Christina Chong and field team

Can you talk about wearing the uniform?

MC: The uniform. Let me tell you. When I signed on, full disclosure, it didn’t cross my mind how difficult it would be to shoot this armor. It’s amazing to look at but after you wear it for an hour, you go, “Wait a minute. I have to use the bathroom at some point.” That’s when you start thinking about all the things you can’t do when you’re in this uniform. We fought through the element and I think it made for a great project but we definitely had our backs against the wall. There were days where I was thinking, “My God. Can it rain anymore? Could we fall anymore? Could it get any hotter?” I’m hoping when you see the film, you see all the hard work we put into it and it was a pleasure doing this.

Can you talk about some of the action scenes you were involved in?

Halo Nightfall - Mike Colter 2

CC: Repelling and rock climbing rehearsals and practicing before the shoot and that is probably one of my favorite stunts that I did and it was incredible coming down this rock phase in this amazing beautiful surrounding. It was lots of running up and down this steep hill over this rugged terrain. I was surprised nobody twisted their ankle. Lots of running through rivers and streams.

MC: Falling was something we did daily.

On casting Mike Colter

Frank Connor: Mike had to straddle two worlds. He had to be a great screen actor, which we knew he was, but he had to something he hadn’t done before. He had to do voice acting and motion capture and facial capture, which is its own thing. It’s a really distinct thing; a different set of acting skills and being able to do two things with the same character.

Halo 5 Guardians

Can you talk about Halo 5?

MC: I just started voice sessions and it’s underway and there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m stretching everyday by doing all the calisthenics I can think of to make sure I’m prepared to deliver the performance you fans deserve. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a whole medium for me. I’m excited about it. I was saying to my representative, “Man, I would love to get into the voice-over world and see what that’s about,” and here we go.

Can you talk about the experience of traveling to Iceland and Northern Ireland?

Halo Nightfall - Mike Colter 4

MC: This experience lingers and stays with you for a long time. I thought of many instances but respective of Frank talks about the production and how it all comes together, but then going back to the script and the experiences, as actors we look for something that we can sink our teeth into and that we can get our hands around and moments that mean something. As gamers, you guys know the world and the characters are so far out there and heroic and so adrenaline pumping and sometimes you miss the human element of it. I feel with this project, we are going to give you a little bit of that and I remember this specific moment about  waterfall right below the glacier where the volcano had erupted four years ago and it had shut down flights going back and forth from Europe. That volcano. We were literally right beside it. And you think where we were with the backdrop and the landscape and then we were doing a scene where we had a casualty. I won’t go into any more details, but there are casualties and people do end up not making it. This is about actors and I just enjoy that (director) Sergio Mimica-Gezzan didn’t miss those moments. There’s lot going on and he has a lot on his plate. Through the writing and Sergio’s eyes, we were able to find those moments and there were times when the days were long, we made sure we found those pieces after four or five takes or ten takes. That’s just the nature of the beast.

Halo Nightfall 5 - Christina Chong as Macer

CC: For me, incredible scenery. Iceland was just amazing, but more than that, it was the people. Working with these amazing people, the cast, the crew, and everyone who sat here (on the panel), the people behind the camera. Like Mike said, going to different locations and people getting knocked out. The weather and throughout all that, people managed to put a smile on their face, which was amazing. Even to the point we started to nominate Chief or Moral for the day and it would be their job to keep moral up. We played games. So, it was a lot of fun. Everyone made it an amazing experience.

Scott Free Productions and 343 Industries’ “Halo: Nightfall” will debut on Xbox One Nov. 11.


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