Alan Tudyk on playing K-2SO in Rogue One
Alan Tudyk is no stranger to sci-fi. The actor has starred in Firefly, iRobot, Dollhouse, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and more. He’s also voiced characters in Frozen, Moana, Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, and others. But whether you see him on the screen or not, there’s one thing he’s known for – being funny. That continues in his role as K-2SO, a new droid in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
I got a chance to see 28 minutes of the new Star Wars story at Skywalker Ranch, and one thing was abundantly clear – K-2SO is going to be a new fan favorite. He stole every scene we saw him in and it was quite apparent that Alan Tudyk’s improvisational humor shone through the character.
I sat down for an interview with Alan and found him to be funny, gracious, and proud to be in a Star Wars film. And he even seemed to be a bit surprised to have been given as much freedom as he was with K-2SO.
ComingSoon.net: I wanted to ask you about developing the character of, is it “Kaytoo”? Is that the short version of it?
Alan Tudyk: Yeah, “Kaytoo.”
CS: Okay. There’s a lot of different ways you could go with the voice, the British accent, American accent, a bunch of beeps. How did you go about finding the voice for the character?
Tudyk: Gareth and I talked in the beginning about his back story coming from the Empire. And one of the things that I always identified with the Empire was the British accent, except for the Stormtroopers, I realized later. They’re always, “Ah,” they’ve got a very nasally voice, usually, coming out of that thing, and they’re very American sounding. But that was the origin of that.
CS: In the footage that we saw, it’s quite apparent that K-2SO is a lot of the comic relief in an otherwise dark film. Were you conscious of that?
Tudyk: I’m a smart ass, I’ll admit it. And so, in situations of tension or heavy, high stakes, gritty moments, I get mouthy and tend towards comedy, lean towards that, because it’s very ripe for levity, and that came through. Gareth let us improv. I got to put a lot of lines in the movie. I didn’t think they would all get in. I would do the lines as written, and then as the takes went on, slowly leave the script and blurt out things that they then used. It’s quite an honor.
CS: Was it scary to think that this improvisational moment may become somebody’s favorite line that they’re quoting for years down the road?
Tudyk: That’s always an honor, when someone repeats it back to you, you’re like, “Oh, that was my line. Oh cool.”
CS: So you finally got to see the whole movie at Skywalker Ranch. What was that like, seeing it for the first time?
Tudyk: It was very impactful. You know, when you make these movies, there’s a lot of CG, as you know, spaceships taking off. For us, we get into a spaceship that was a set piece and we would act as if we were taking off. Once, they pulled us on a crane.
CS: Oh wow.
Tudyk: Yeah, they pulled us up like, two, three stories in the air and then landed us, to get the perspective through the windows, which was really interesting. But all of the planets, the battles in space that you can’t glean from a script, when you see it being done, it takes you on a ride that you hadn’t anticipated, at least myself and talking to the rest of the cast is the same. So when we were finished and you clapped for everybody’s name, because you know everybody, you end on all the—it’s a long clap.
Tudyk: And it finishes, and we all just sat there in stunned silence for a little bit, trying to process everything we had seen.
Tudyk: Roll it again, please! But we had to go to dinner.
CS: Did you have a favorite moment that fans should watch out for?
Tudyk: I have several, but I can’t talk about them.
CS: Okay. I understand you actually got to chat a little bit with Anthony Daniels?
Tudyk: I did. He and I discussed his costume, and it was really impressive. He is wearing the same costume, the same size costume that he did on the day, so after all of these years, he can still fit in the costume. He was too big at one point, but it was only because he had gotten too muscular, right?
CS: That’s a good way.
Tudyk: So, exactly. I mean, it really speaks to his shape, his fitness, his health. And he asked me if I was wearing a suit or if I was motion capture. And when I told him it was motion capture, he said, “You sh*t,” in a very saucy, C-3PO way, I guess. I loved it. He was very funny. It wasn’t a rude comment, it was just, saucy.
CS: I saw a great internet meme of your reaction when a spoiler accidentally got let loose. (Alan laughs and shakes his head) Are you glad to finally have the secrecy about to be lifted on all this?
Tudyk: Absolutely. Mainly because I want people to see the movie, especially now that we’ve seen it. That’s just a bonus byproduct that I can now have conversations. I’ve been lucky enough to have conversations with the cast and Gareth and the producers, how it’s going forward, how it’s turning out, looking at the different shots as it goes along in post. So I can’t wait for everybody to see it.
CS: Do you think the “Firefly” fans are going to enjoy this “Star Wars” film?
Tudyk: I’m sure they are.
CS: There’s a lot of crossover there.
Tudyk: It’s a different kind of sci-fi story, of course. You know, “Firefly” was a space western, so it had that kind of, I don’t know…
CS: I always felt like it was Han Solo’s further adventures in space.
Tudyk: Right. It had a pioneer feel to it, because so many of the planets had been just turned to settle, to be settlers. People are just dropped off on planets and they’re asked to survive. And so, these worlds could be really undeveloped and hard scrabble life. There is that in “Star Wars,” actually, isn’t there?
CS: We always called it a space western.
CS: So “Firefly” took that to the extreme.
Tudyk: The main difference here is there’s a lot of aliens that there were no aliens in that world. The aliens in this world are the ones made by ILM and they’re just amazing. I can say that, having been up-close, just wow. And then, even ones that just cross camera, they don’t have a scene. It’s just an amazing creation, just to fill out the room.
CS: There were a lot of directors afraid to tackle “Star Wars.” They just didn’t want to get into it, yet Gareth did.
CS: How did he act as a director, compared to others that you’ve worked with?
Tudyk: Allowing a lot of freedom and consulting with the actors on where they see their characters in a moment. That’s typical, except he embraced it. He embraced the characters that were forming as we went along. He didn’t try to muscle us into a different idea that might’ve been his impression, if that was the case, because we would’ve noticed, because he gave us so much freedom. For me, especially, I seriously can’t believe so many of my smart-ass comments throughout this shoot are in a “Star Wars” movie.
CS: You’re making me really look forward to hearing all this.
Tudyk: It’s a source of pride, I guess, or I don’t know what the hell. I’m very happy they’re there.
CS: How does the tone on the set change when everybody’s so reverent of the source material?
Tudyk: Right. We are fortunate that it’s a standalone, and we’re telling such a different style and the story in such a different style, that the reverence is there, but we get to be our own thing. You know, when Darth Vader’s on set, everybody, there’s sort of a kneejerk reverence. Maybe it’s fear. It’s fear. It’s absolutely fear.
CS: They grew up afraid of Darth Vader, and then there he is, right?
Tudyk: There he is, breathing and everything.
CS: Didn’t anybody say, “No, Darth Vader wouldn’t do that, he would do this?”
CS: Everybody’s an expert, right?
Tudyk: Yes, “Stop scratching your ass, Darth. That is not in the canon. That doesn’t happen. He’d do it with the force, for Christ’s sake.”
CS: Right. Is everybody walking around doing the breathing and everything?
Tudyk: He was doing the breathing. His suit actually had the breathing locked in, so I think it was a fan made costume, too.
Tudyk: Yeah, I think it was. I think I heard that yesterday. That’d be a good question to ask Gareth. But that it was someone who was a fan who had built the costume and ILM did the helmet and stuff, but the actual apparatus, I think was initially a fan, if they aren’t—anyway, ask Gareth.
CS: Will do. Did you ask them a little bit about “Episode VIII” and what may be coming? Did you have any curiosity about that or did you just want to distance yourself form it?
Tudyk: No, I didn’t. They’re so secretive on those movies. They were starting just as we were finishing, but we didn’t cross paths. The only difference, or the way I could tell they were there is because our catering got better, which is really an issue I need to take up with Kathy Kennedy. What the hell was that?
CS: Yeah, yeah.
Tudyk: Not that she makes catering choices, but maybe she can intervene.
CS: I’m sure she could pull a few strings.
Tudyk: She could intervene in the future standalone movies.