K-2SO is not the first robot Alan Tudyk has played. He also portrayed one in the 2004 Will Smith film I, Robot — and he initially thought that’s what Rogue One director Gareth Edwards wanted to talk to him about the first time they spoke.
K-2SO played in performance capture by Alan Tudky. Image: Disney
“I just thought he was asking me for information,” Tudyk told us. “So I just had a conversation with him like, ‘You don’t want to get yourself trapped. Whoever plays your robot, you have to give them their takes. You can’t just throw them to the side and fix it in post because you’re not going to be able to fix it in post. You’ve got to do it on set, on the day.”
“So I was telling him about being a robot and its limitations and then he tells me, when I finally meet him and he gave me the job, that one of his first films was about robots. CGI robots. I felt like such an ass.”
Tudyk also didn’t realise that the technology he was going to be able to use to play K-2SO had so vastly improved since 2004. The first time Tudyk saw what K-2SO would look like was on a visit to Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco. He was brought to a large room and fitted with stilts, and was able to see his movements mirrored as the droid. It was in those few hours that he figured out how K-2SO would move.
Kind of like this.
“It was great to get on the stilts and play with how he looked,” Tudyk said. “That’s something we didn’t have when I was doing I, Robot. It was a huge help to see what worked, what read, what didn’t read. Certain things looked comical that shouldn’t so I was able to find what worked for the digital makeup.”
Months passed after that visit before the people making K-2SO fully realised what the character was going to be.
“I don’t think I heard the voice until we got the first few shots back from [the location filming in] Jordan,” said animation supervisor Hal Hickel, who was instrumental in bringing K-2SO to the big screen. “That’s when it all came together. We are working on the form of him [for a long time]. But until we got that piece it wasn’t really a character yet. It was like a prop.”
And though K-2SO is now gone, Tudyk would love to see more with the character in the future. “I’d love to do some stories with Cassian,” he said. “Figure out who they were before this movie took place. Maybe how K-2 came about. That sort of thing. Throw Krennic in there? Come on. We’ve got a movie right there!”
Rogue One is out on Blu-ray now.