Mike Colter didn’t know much about the “Halo” video game franchise when he was chosen for the lead role in the Xbox Originals Web series "Halo: Nightfall," which debuted in December, and the first-person shooter game “Halo 5: Guardians,” coming later this year. Though the 38-year-old Columbia, South Carolina, native had played roles in popular television series such as “American Horror Story,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Following,” his role in Microsoft Studios’ iconic gaming franchise opened him up to a whole new genre of fans -- video game fans.
“I really only knew as much about ‘Halo’ as pop culture gave me. I was not a gamer, and I think of that as an advantage," Colter told International Business Times on Thursday. "I had a couple of friends, who, when I got the ‘Halo’ job, were like ‘oh, man, this is so cool’ because they were really big on the games and played them a lot. But sometimes as an actor when you approach any project, it’s nice to have a little bit of a clean slate with your character. With the excitement of doing something they’re really into, actors put a lot of pressure onto themselves to make it as good as possible. I like having a little bit of the unknown in a project, and that’s what I had with this.”
Colter, who stands at 6’3”, played Lieutenant Commander Jameson Locke in the live-action Web series “Halo: Nightfall” and will provide the voice of the same character in “Halo 5: Guardians.” He’s also playing Marvel superhero Luke Cage in upcoming Netflix series “A.K.A. Jessica Jones.” Providing a voice in a video game and starring in a Marvel-themed Netflix series? Colter may just be the next superstar amongst fanboys.
“They are a special group of people, and I say that as a compliment,” Colter said while discussing hard-core fans. “They really are dedicated to the world of ‘Halo’ and they play it passionately. I see why people really are attracted to it. When I went to Comic-Con, I was overwhelmed by the turnout, the amount of people who came out to really support the project, from all over the country and world. They come out in costumes. It’s almost like Halloween on steroids. They save up to come to Comic-Con, get here however they can, just to be there. Without these fans, there is no ‘Halo.’ Without these fans, there is no Comic-Con.”
Colter isn’t a huge “Halo” fan himself, but when he does play video games, he usually opts for football or basketball games. “I tend to play games that will be over within a certain amount of minutes,” he said. “If I’m not playing with someone else, I get competitive with the computer, I feel like the computer cheats. So, now, I’ve gotta start again because I’ve gotta win. Before I know it, three hours have passed. And I’m talking to the computer, like ‘What is going on here?’”
“Halo 5: Guardians” will be the first video game for which Colter has provided a voice, and he admitted it wasn’t easy.
“Video games are really about giving the fans and the users the emotional connection via voice, and that’s all you rely on,” Colter said. It’s a little different from using your entire being, like on film and television. It’s a little demanding, and it’s a muscle you have to get used to using. You’re not really able to do the same kind of work with voice-over that you’re doing on screen.”
Colter has a lot on his plate for 2015. Along with “A.K.A. Jessica Jones,” which he is currently filming, he will play superhero Luke Cage in two more Netflix series, “Luke Cage” and “The Defenders.”
“We’re having a great time filming it, but I never want to get ahead of myself. There are so many things that have to be done to get to that point,” Colter said.
The release date for “Halo 5: Guardians” is set for some time during the third quarter of this year, when we’ll finally see Colter take on his very first video game role as Locke, a SPARTAN-IV supersoldier born in 2529. Is he anxious? Nope, he's optimistic.
“The future looks bright and promising, but I don’t want to look too far ahead,” he said.