Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Of course Alan Tudyk is in a Star Wars movie.
And of course the beloved character actor whose eclectic credits include Firely, Serenity, I, Robot, Death at a Funeral, Wreck-It Ralph, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Frozen would play a seven-foot-tall, antisocial Imperial security droid reprogrammed to serve the Rebel cause and help steal the Death Star plans in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After all, Tudyk has a knack for popping up in unexpected places, taking on the strangest roles, and stealing every scene he’s in.
I sat down with Tudyk the day after watching 28 minutes of Rogue One footage, which revealed his K-2SO (a digital character created through motion capture) to be an early contender for the film’s MVP. During our all-too-brief conversation, we spoke about bringing humor to a dark movie, avoiding getting typecast, and the importance of spontaneity on set.
I just had a very, very serious conversation about this movie with Gareth Edwards, so I’m looking forward to talking about the comic relief.
Great! There we go!
Because you play the funny character in a movie that’s otherwise about people doing horrible things to others in the name of freedom and oppression.
Oh my God.
So what’s it like to be the funny character in that movie?
His humor comes out of honest moments within these pitched battles and extreme circumstances and high stakes. It was a blast to be that guy. To be able to – HEY!
[Co-star Mads Mikkelsen walks by. Tudyk is very excited to see him. They exchange waves.]
To be able to, at times, let the air out with a smartass comment. But he speaks the truth in a moment. Can I back up? Back up, back up, back up, back up. Ask the question the again!
You’re the character who brings the humor in a very serious movie.
Right. Right. Well, it’s a blast. It tends to be my way in life to say stupid and ridiculous things in moments that are possibly uncomfortable at any time. I took to the character. I was encouraged to do it, which could be a terrible idea, to encourage me. It ended up working out, I think, in the overall viewing of the movie. K2 is helpful because it is a gritty movie and there are times when you need that breath and K2 provides that.
From the footage we saw last night, he seems prissy but deadly. Sort of like a sociopathic C-3PO.
How much of that was on the page and how much of that was you finding the character?
I honestly think half of my lines were made up. At least. I’m so surprised they gave me so much freedom. I can’t believe it, especially in a series that is so revered. C-3PO are different in the way that C-3PO is a servant and K2 isn’t. He’s more of his own…you want to call him his own man or I want to call him his own man. His own droid! His own person. If he doesn’t like an order, unless it comes from [Diego Luna’s] Cassian, he won’t follow it. Cassian he’s very devoted to. K2 sort of feels, especially in the beginning, that this mission would be much better suited for Cassian and K2 only. He likes how it is. He likes how things are. He doesn’t need all this change.
K-2SO’s relationship with Cassian appears to be key to his character, but it seems like you and Diego Luna also developed a playful rapport. He spent a lot of time describing how the motion capture suit showed off your balls at the press conference this morning.
[Laughs] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Is that offscreen relationship reflected in the movie?
It is. When you see the movie, there is a point where [Luna] is covering his face because he laughs. He’s smiling and he covers his face and you can’t see him laugh. So we were having fun and whenever you are having fun on set, especially when you’re coming up with things and you’re performing and you’re in the moment and you’re also having fun with your fellow actors, that’s always the best I’ve found in movies. There’s a life to it in movies that you can’t fake. It’s also with Felicity [Jones] as well. I respect the hell out of her and enjoy working with her, so that enjoyment is there as well.
And that’s the importance of having you on set even though you’re playing a digital character, right? It’s not just about you being an eye-line for the other actors. It helps for them to have someone to bounce off, to create the dynamic.
Yeah, we’re all bouncing. Bouncing off each other. You can have a scene set in a–
[Tudyk looks around for a moment before motioning to our surroundings]
In a lobby. In chairs. So now we’re sitting in this juxtaposition. But you get to set and it’s like “Those chairs don’t work. What if we just pull out a couple of these [motions to nearby potted plants] plants and sat by these plants? Put something down here?” Then a scene could come about where you’re acting with this plant and you get a thorn and it just starts to come alive on set in a way that you can’t do later. It just doesn’t work.
It seems to me, even though you’re wearing these silly motion capture pajamas and standing on stilts for this extremely advanced process to turn you into a droid, that this must have been like theater. There are frills for you on set. Just pure performance.
Right. I think you’re right. It definitely has a theatrical feel to it. At specific times they needed my hands to be robot hands and I had robot hands I would wear that were much longer than mine and I could puppeteer with this great electronic mechanism that they put in there. My fingers could move and articulate and whenever I moved my fingers, it moved its fingers. It’s puppetry. So it does have that element.