The Rogue One interview I was most looking forward to was Alan Tudyk, who plays K-2SO in Rogue One. I adore him as an actor and have loved all of his roles in TV and film. Another one I was really excited for was Mads Mikkelsen who plays Galen Erso (Jyn’s father). Our schedule got moved around when some interviews were running late, so we actually got to interview them together. I knew right away that this would be a really fun interview. I enjoyed my time with these guys – I think all of us did.
The first question we asked Alan and Mads was for them to tell us about their characters. Mads answered first, “My character is called Galen Erso. I am a scientist, working closely together with Krennic in the film – before the film actually – and working on a project that has the potential of making the world a better place, and also the potential of not doing so. I’m also the father of our hero (Jyn)” Alan joked that the hero was his character, K-2SO, who is a new droid in the Star Wars universe. He then went on to explain his character in more depth. “K-2SO is a droid who was formerly of the Empire and he’s been reprogrammed by Cassian’s character. He has been working with him prior to our introduction, to Jyn. He’s a soldier in the Alliance. The reprogramming has caused him to be free with his own personality, which invites some brutal honesty in moments where honesty isn’t really required. He can be funny in that way, and sarcastic, and passive-aggressive, and all those fun things that sidekicks [are]. Although – they’re partners; he wouldn’t see himself as a sidekick.”
From the footage that we have seen, I knew K-2SO was going to a lot of the comic relief in Rogue One. Alan is the perfect guy to play that part, as he is a super funny man. We asked if most of his lines were scripted, or if he got to adlib some. “I luckily got to adlib a lot. The set was conducive to having fun and playing around with the characters. When we would get into this space, we would find the best way to bring life to the scenes with what we were given and part of that became just saying whatever I wanted, in moments. I don’t want to say I was off-roading the entire time, that becomes problematic in movie-making – I’ve worked with actors who do that. A lot of my improving is based on the line that was there.”
We asked Mads and Alan how they found out they got their parts – and what their initial reactions were. Mads answered first, “Gareth called me and pitched the story for me and asked me if I wanted to be on board. I didn’t see a necessity of seeing a script, because it was Star Wars, so I said yes right away. If I hadn’t, if I’d turned it down, I’m sure my kids would’ve killed me.” Most of the actors we talked to said the same thing really, that they didn’t even have to think about it because it was Star Wars, how could you say no. Alan had a pretty funny story to tell on how he came to be part of Rogue One. “I was told that Gareth wanted to talk to me and we Skyped. I knew it was for a droid in Star Wars, but I didn’t think he was calling me to talk about ME being in it. [I thought] he just wanted to talk about droids and motion capture [because] I had done a motion capture robot in I, Robot. So I was [thought] that makes sense – I’d be the go-to actor to just discuss how it’s done, how to do it. It was a really frank conversation between the two of us because I didn’t think of myself as in the running, just sort of a someone he’s gathering information from. So, I was like, ‘Yeah, you don’t wanna do it this way. Here are the traps that you’re going to find yourself in. Don’t do this; don’t do that. Give your actor a lot of takes. You need to get it on set while the other actors are there or else you’re going to be struggling to make up the performance in post, and then you’re screwed.’ It was really not the conversation I would’ve had if I had thought I was being considered. Then he asked me to audition, I auditioned.”
We asked Alan about his actual audition and he explained the process to us. “It was a scene that isn’t in the movie. It was a scene where they’re arriving on a planet that has a magnetic field that scrambles [K-2SO’s] circuitry. So [it’s] like he’s drunk, and he starts to slo-o-o-w… are we there yet? I think it’s the only scene I remember.” Alan had us all laughing as he slowed down while talking. We learned he sent in a tape of him doing it with an American accent, a mid-Atlantic accent, and an English accent. He then finished explaining how he found out he had the job. “Somebody said [Gareth] wants to meet you at the Star Wars celebration that was in Anaheim that year. I went down and met him and he offered me the role there in a way that I never get offered roles. It’s usually I’m interested, we’re clearing with producers – they drag it out. But that was the first time that happened. They really trusted Gareth to choose his actors because he had the ability to say, ‘I’d like you to do it.’ It was cool.”
During the interview, an action figure of K-2SO was sitting on the table in front of the guys. Mads kept joking about the fact that he didn’t have an action figure for his character. Alan told him that he thinks he is going to get one eventually – and it was pointed out that his character from Doctor Strange, Kaecilius, already has a figure. Of course, then Alan’s character of Hei Hei was brought up, who is the rooster in Moana. All three of these films – Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and Moana – are part of the Disney family. We asked which type of roles they preferred – villainous vs heroic. Mads answered first, “I’ve done a lot of villainous; I’ve also done a lot of good guys and also normal people and a butcher once. But I think they go hand-in-hand. You gotta find something likeable, something you can relate to in a bad guy. And vice-versa – in the good guy, you have to find his flaws, the stuff he’s struggling with, or she’s struggling with. So for me, they go hand-in-hand. You have to be a really nice person to play a good villain.”
Alan seemed to have the same take on it, but added “I don’t care if they’re villain or a hero, as long as they have humor. Honestly, my favorite villains have humor in them. Even if it’s evil, they’re just using it to make a point that is murderous. Because that’s the way my mind bends, and it’s just makes for an easier connection with the character. I watched Ben in his role (Krennic). I’ve had to play a bad guy before and I just started doing this (he lowers his voice to sound almost Batman like) [and I think] why the hell am I even talking like that? I don’t talk like that. And to see [Ben] do such a bad – such a dark character – with such charm, that’s what’s good.”
Since we had heard from all the actors we interviewed that the group was like a family, we asked Mads and Alan if they had the same experience. Mads doesn’t interact a lot with the rebel group, but he does have a lot of scenes with Jyn. He let us know there are actually three versions of her in Rogue One – a four year old, an eight year old, and then “the real deal”, who is played by Felicity Jones. He also told us that Felicity is really good at what she does. He then went on to talk about how he worked a lot with Ben Mendelsohn (look for his interview later this week) and that he is very hard not to love – and that they become like brothers really fast.
Alan’s response had us all laughing again (he really is such a funny guy), “I guess it was like a family. I don’t think anybody was a Republican – so in that way, it wasn’t like family. I’m from Texas originally, so we’ve been negotiating that the last couple of months, but we all got along very well. It was a lot of fun. We played a lot on set, Diego’s just hysterical, and Felicity – I have such huge respect for her. She was such a leader, and a harder worker than anybody. She never complained, which was annoying. I complained about her inability to complain. But you need that on a set – you need a leader. She was a great leader and certainly better than I was at her age, or as of yet, that kind of maturity that she has. It was a blast.”
Alan also explained to us how he LITERALLY caught on fire on the set of Rogue One. “I caught on fire! We were in the trenches, literally. There was a battle going on, and they had explosions, and I’m wearing my skintight pajamas. There are pots of explosions, and people are ducking down, and suddenly my back gets hot. I think, ‘Oh, ow—ow—ow I’m on fire’. A spark hit [my suit] and then just spread out. It was very flammable. I didn’t realize it. I wore fire retardant undershirts after that.”
I asked Alan about being a droid. They are such an important part of Star Wars and I wanted to know if he felt pressured to make K-2SO unique in his own way. “I guess I did. I don’t remember it if I did. I just focused on the script, like any job. I did have a concern when after a take, people would go, ‘Oh, that was really funny’ that I was going to be a Jar Jar Binks. I did talk to Gareth saying, I want to stay this side of Jar Jar. I don’t want to be bigger than the movie, a character that’s in his own world. He assured me that he wouldn’t allow that – that he would keep me within the world as long as I was focused on it and I think we did it. So that was my concern beyond being a droid.”
Both guys were great! Be sure to check them out as Galen Erso (Mads) and K-2SO (Alan) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when it hits theaters on December 16th!
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