It appears that the circumstances surrounding director Rupert Wyatt’s exit from Showtime’s ambitious Halo TV series really were due to scheduling issues. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker was announced as the principal director behind the TV adaptation of the popular video game franchise last June, with Kyle Killen (Awake) serving as showrunner. But later that year, Showtime announced that Wyatt was exiting the project due to changes in the production schedule, and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood) eventually replaced him as the show’s principal director.
Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with Wyatt at SXSW in anticipation of the release of Wyatt’s new film Captive State, and he asked the filmmaker why he ended up leaving Halo:
“I got involved, I knew very little about Halo—same as I knew very little about Planet of the Apes when I got involved—and I kind of steeped myself in the mythology and began to realize how much incredible literature there was and the depth of the storytelling, and it all stacked up for me. There was an incredible foundation for the storytelling, so it was gangbusters. I was super excited. In short, I think if I had come at it from an earlier perspective from the building of it then perhaps it would have gone differently, but as a director of a TV show it’s quite hard to sort of become a creative architect of a show. I think in a way I was never gonna be that, and that’s fine because there are really many talented people involved in that show who are doing that job.”
Wyatt says that as development continued, it became clear that he was going to be working on this thing for years, which is a tough commitment to make when you’re not the principal decision-maker when it comes to the storytelling:
“So it became clear that there was gonna be more time needed, I’m talking some months if not years, to align—as you probably know it’s massively ambitious, so the budget for that really needs to align with the scripts. We were still kind of working on that, but it ultimately wasn’t under my watch to be able to find that alignment. So there was a choice made by Showtime which was essentially to push things, and if I had been perhaps been the showrunner then I would have stayed on that journey for two or three years, but as a director of a finite number of episodes, there’s other things I really wanna do. So I was very sad to leave, but basically it wasn’t within the framework that I originally signed up for.”
So yeah, a combination of scheduling issues—i.e. a longer commitment than originally expecting—plus the realization that as director, Wyatt had less sway when it came to the storytelling as the show’s showrunner and producers did. Which is understandable. Cary Joji Fukunaga famously gained wild acclaim for directing the first season of True Detective, but rumors abound that he and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto butted heads constantly. It’s a tough balance to navigate.
Showtime has yet to set a debut date for Halo, and hasn’t even started casting, so indeed it sounds like this is going to be a long process. But it’ll be interesting to see what a big-budget Halo TV series looks like when it finally airs.