Interview: Mackenzie Mason | HALO 4

PrintE-mail Written by Whitney Scott Bain

Beautiful and charming, Mackenzie Mason is a star in her own right. An amazing woman with style and grace that includes an incredible range of acting talent, she could easily fit in with the glamorous, women of the 1940s silver screen. Starburst caught up with her to talk about her latest role in the hit video game series, Halo 4 as the AI computer, Cortana.

Starburst: Let’s talk about your cosmopolitan background.

Mackenzie Mason: Well my mom was a Lawyer in the Navy so we moved around a lot.  I was born in the Philippines and lived in Germany for high school as well as Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut before moving to LA to act and go to the University of Southern California. Education was huge in my family, as well as travel.

Did you perform in any student films?

Yes a ton of films and commercials just starting out. I recently did a comedic film called Body High and am about to start shooting on a short film I’m very proud of called Shattered Love. It’s a very emotional film about Alzheimer’s.

What actresses inspire you?

I’m a big fan of the ‘40s and ‘50s films. Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney... women from that era are my inspiration. They have glamour, yet they have a wide range of on screen emotion. 

I agree. You lose yourself watching those actresses and actors from that time period. You become absorbed in the moment. You forget that you’re watching a film and you’re absorbed into their world.

They had a certain quality about them. You could watch Cary Grant or Errol Flynn for example on the big screen and you’re transported into a different mindset.

And the movies that you like?

Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, Hitchcock, the list is endless.

Working on Halo 4, as the AI, Cortana must have been an interesting role.

Yes, it was a lot of fun! We did a lot of performance capture on the film and it turned out great! Cortana is the artificial intelligence that guides Chief through the whole game. She is dying from rampancy - a computer glitch where their system sort of burns out. This means that I spent a lot of time on set portraying a woman who is dealing with her own mortality and accepting her demise as a human would, even though she is a computer.  Shes so strong and powerful, it was an honor to play that kind of woman.

It was very interesting creating Cortana because of her quick changes in emotional states.  One moment, she could be quiet and reserved, the next she breaks out in an uncontrollable outburst. Every emotion conceived runs through Cortana’s system. She’s basically a bi-polar computer. There were times that I surprised myself what I was able to do with her.

What are you working on now?

I’m the lead in a comedy called Body High that takes place in Venice, CA.  After that is my short film on Alzheimer’s.  I also study comedy with the Groundlings and Second City improv schools. I have my own comedy group made up of other classmates and I started writing sketches for them as well.

Any hobbies?

I love reading. I also love sci-fi and horror films! I also make candles from vintage containers like film reels and cigar tins.  The company is called Vintage Wicks. 

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Halo 4 is out now.


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