The actor discusses bringing the new droid to life, Anthony Daniels' choice words upon learning it was a motion-capture performance, and much more.
Alan Tudyk can’t find a parking space.
The voice and motion-capture actor responsible for playing droid K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has serious cred in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. So much so, he deserves a reserved spot for his wheels.
His live-action roles are many -- Tudyk played Hoban “Wash” Washburne in Joss Whedon’s cult TV series Firefly and subsequent film Serenity -- and he currently stars in, writes, and directs the comedy Web series Con Man. In fact, he’s heading to the Con Man office as we speak. The series, now available on the Comic-Con HQ streaming service, debuts its second season in late 2016.
In the meantime, other projects pile higher than an AT-AT. He’ll be appearing September 2 at Dragon Con in Atlanta unveiling the new Con Man game app. Tudyk says he’ll be walking down the aisle soon, too, and we’re not talking red carpet, here. And that’s just scratching his calendar’s surface.
“Wonderful,” Tudyk says as he finally docks his vehicle into a parking spot, his voice sounding like a cartoon character you can’t quite pinpoint.
Speaking of spots, when December arrives and Rogue One hits screens, Tudyk will officially have a firm spot in the Star Wars universe. That's something, he says, he hasn't quite fully grasped.
StarWars.com: In Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards describes Kaytoo as the antithesis of C-3PO with a little bit of Chewbacca’s personality in a droid’s body. Do you agree?
Alan Tudyk: Kaytoo was formerly an Imperial droid, so he used to be on the other side. He was a security droid and then Cassian, Diego Luna’s character, who owns Kaytoo, has done a memory wipe and reprograms Kaytoo to be a Rebel with the Alliance. Through that process, Kaytoo’s personality changes. I approached it as if he were freed, almost like a governor on an engine that holds the personality back. The Empire was much more of a regimented world where you’re much more forced to be in servitude of the Empire, which historically is the case. When he is reprogrammed, his personality comes out, which is a bit odd. At Star Wars Celebration Europe, they showed a little bit of a clip of him. There was no sound to it; I narrated it. You see Felicity Jones’ character hand me a bag, and she and Diego Luna’s character walk off. And I stand there holding the bag for just a moment, and I just drop it, because I’m not into holding her bag. [Laughs] C-3PO would definitely hold the bag and watch over it. Kaytoo is maybe a bit too honest. At that moment, he’s willful. It makes him a really fun character. For me, it made him much more human. I was very free to act within the confines of the script, but there were a lot of moments I could find, especially with such good actors, to express and be the unique character that Kaytoo is.
StarWars.com: Kaytoo is a motion-capture character. Did you enjoy the process?
Alan Tudyk: [Yes.] I met Anthony Daniels at Star Wars Celebration Europe, who has worn an actual suit as C-3PO since the first Star Wars. He had to be screwed into it. To get out of it, it took a drill and some time. He was in the desert, as you know, and put up with a lot of harsh conditions. I was wearing stilts, which was very cool, because the character is tall. I was wearing these ILM-designed stilts that were almost a foot tall. That was my only real challenge. Anthony Daniels asked me what I wore on the shoot. He asked me if I wore a suit or if I were motion capture. I said, “I’m motion capturing it.” He said, “You [expletive]!” [Laughs] That was his response, because he was envious of the comfort level he knew I had wearing a Spandex body suit versus a practical costume, which by the way he still fits into. He had to get smaller at one point, because his muscles were too big. He’s a very special performer. I plan to be very large and lethargic in my 60s. [Laughs] I don’t think I’ll be wearing any stilts.
StarWars.com: What did Star Wars Celebration Europe feel like as opposed to other cons?
Alan Tudyk: It was great to be part of a franchise that has such a fan base and new fans, especially since they’ve begun making the movies again. Other than that it was simply a group of fans that was excited to see the show that you’re in, which I’ve experienced with Con Man. It’s a little different from Firefly, because, sadly, we don’t have new stories coming out, because the show was cancelled. I was a little nervous at first, because it was built up to be such an event. But the minute I was handed the microphone, I was very comfortable. [Laughs] Because I’ve been on many panels and love having those conversations. It started out feeling a little intimidating, but luckily for me, when I’m in front of a group of sci-fi fans, my experiences have only been positive. I’m comfortable and feel supported. I made some jokes. Your worst jokes get laughed at and get support. [Laughs] You’re working with a net of fandom, which is a very strong net.
StarWars.com: You grew up as part of the original Star Wars generation. What does it feel like to be a part of the franchise?
Alan Tudyk: I don’t even know if I’ve even experienced the full understanding of what I’m a part of. It doesn’t happen all at once. I was part of a really well-run film with amazing actors from all over the world. You’re immediately working with a caliber of actor, and a level of detail in production and design that is rare. And the productions I’ve done are few and far between. So, I’ve experienced it in that way. And when we were at the convention in London, John Williams’ music played over the crowd and I thought, “Oh!” It sparks that feeling. There’s sense memory that comes back to you, and you’re suddenly that child again. And you’re, like, “Wait a minute! We have the rights to this, don’t we? We’re part of this! Oh, my God!” It’s been great, and I think it’s just going to continue to be. At some level, I don’t think I’ve even realized that I’m in Star Wars.
Jon Waterhouse is an award-winning journalist, radio show host, and performer whose byline has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Esquire, BlackBook, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and on MTV.com. He helms the geek travel blog NerdsOnHoliday.com.