These Two Actresses Are Playing Cortana in Season 2 of 'Halo'

Cortana is still voiced by Jen Taylor in Season 2 of 'Halo,' but Christina Bennington is also credited.

Sara Belcher - Author

Mar. 1 2024, Published 5:50 p.m. ET

Cortana's new look in 'Halo' Season 2
Source: Paramount+

Master Chief wouldn't be the same without his trusty AI Cortana. Though Season 1 of the Halo TV adaptation ended with the AI becoming one with our main character, between the two seasons she was removed from Master Chief — and apparently given a whole new look.

Those who tuned into the second season of Halo noticed that Cortana looked more like her Tron-inspired video game counterparts than she did in Season 1, but why did they change Cortana?

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Why did they change Cortana in 'Halo' Season 2? It's not entirely a recast.

For the past two decades in the Halo franchise, actress Jen Taylor has acted as the voice for Master Chief's AI companion, a role she carried into the first season of the television adaptation. Going into Season 2 of the Halo show, fans will notice that Cortana looks a lot different than she did in the first season. But this isn't a complete recast — it's a strategic decision on the part of the show's creators and producers to make the AI seem more lifelike.

Cortana in Season 1 vs Season 2 of 'Halo'
Source: Paramount+

Cortana Season 1 (left) vs Cortana Season 2 (right)

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"The original Season 1 Cortana was a fully CG character. It was not based on an actor," executive producer Kiki Wolfkill told GameSpot. "It was very much about how do we make sure we're getting the full range of emotion and facial nuance? And maybe that can only come from a real person."

Before Christina Bennington was cast as Cortana, Jen was doing motion capture for the role, similar to how video game characters are created. Instead of using her face, though, the creators crafted an entirely original personal for Jen to voice.

In Season 2, Jen is still the voice of Cortana, but Christina's the figure bringing the AI to life. Instead of doing motion capture, Christina is acting out the lines, matching Jen's tone and inflections.

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"I think that the solution we came up with had a lot of creative benefits and most of them have to do with just trying to ground the show as much as possible and keeping it feeling human and photo-real," showrunner David Wiener told the outlet. "And while you can achieve some things with a CG asset, we know that there's really something ineffable about human beings and particularly with actors, you know, you can get these nuances and subtleties that I think connect us to what's going on inside on a subtextual level."

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Cortana's new appearance doesn't mean a new storyline, though.

Just because the character's image has gotten a makeover doesn't mean Cortana will be getting a new arc — or an in-show explanation as to her appearance. Throughout the video games, Cortana's look has gone through multiple variations with little explanation, and that's exactly how the show's producers plan to handle it.

"We've always just gone in the games with 'Cortana is Cortana is Cortana,'" Kiki said. "Unless David has plans I'm not aware of, we don't plan to explain the difference in appearance."

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