From the beginning of the Star Wars saga with Episode IV: A New Hope the Rebel Alliance was depicted as a ragtag group of individuals from all corners of the galaxy, many of whom even came from the Empire or Imperial occupied territories. Even Luke Skywalker's best friend Biggs Darklighter joined the Imperial Academy just to convert to the Rebels, similar to fellow ace pilot Wedge Antilles.
With the first Star Wars spinoff - and what amounts to being the essential prequel to A New Hope - in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, that political reality remains very much true. At least two members of Jyn Erso's (Felicity Jones) elite team of Rebel fighters came from the other side in Imperial Enforcer droid K-2SO (Alan Tudk) and cargo ship pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).
We had the chance to chat with Alan Tudyk, who performs the voice and motion capture of K-2SO, twice during the Rogue One junket at Lucasfilm HQ and one of those times was on camera with fellow star Riz Ahmed where I first tease them about their Imperial histories and that bond, before delving into the specifics of their characters and what makes Rogue One different from the rest of the Star Wars universe.
Is it fair to say, all cards on the table, that you're "traitors to the Empire"?
Alan Tudyk: Whoaaaah... I mean... we're disgruntled, that's for sure.
Riz Ahmed: Yeah, I'm working it out, man. I'm working through some stuff, trying to find my way like everyone.
Alan Tudyk: You left the Empire.
Riz Ahmed: Labels. Isn't he using a lot of labels?
Alan Tudyk: You could've gone to see HR. I mean it didn't start there. You just sorta...*pfffft*
Riz Ahmed: Human Resources wouldn't, you know, take my CV...
I'm curious though, that's an interesting historical part of each of your characters. Did they give you a lot of backstory and your lives pre-joining the Rebellion?
Both: Not really.
No? That's all secret? Was that a bonding thing for your two characters, perhaps?
Alan Tudyk: The great thing is it leaves it up to you.
Riz Ahmed: Yeah, and particularly when they filled out such a rich detailed world - they literally built it so it feels very tangible - is then for you to fill in the blanks.
Alan Tudyk: K2 was a shovel salesman prior to this movie...
Alan Tudyk:...but he's on the lamb for killing a man in a bar fight with a shovel.
Riz Ahmed: I can believe that. There's a dark side to K2.
I could tell that from the footage. For your character Riz, I know he's gone through quite a few changes from the development: What would say are some of the biggest changes from when it was first pitched to you, to what you saw in the final product?
Riz Ahmed: Almost everything. I'm not sure we should really talk about it before the film comes out. But everything from: the name of the character, to what the character does, to the character's relationship to the rest of the gang, when we meet the character - pretty much everything changed.
Alan Tudyk: I was aware?
Riz Ahmed: That...you also changed. Yeah. That also changed. It was the most consistent thing about the character. But I think that just speaks to the boldness of the team, they just weren't afraid to let thing evolve. To just keep improving things and integrating them. So, as long as you're kinda willing to roll with the punches, then that can be a real gift.
Alan, Star Wars has a long legacy of cool droids, memorable droids: What makes K2SO interesting or even better than the other droids?
Alan Tudyk: Well, he does come from the Empire, which is a big part of his backstory. He's also a security droid, an enforcer droid. So he has the ability to enforce. Which, you've never seen any other droid really [do] more than just shocking someone or lighting a lighter. Or I guess, shocking, that's the big thing they do is shock. And I don't have a shocking ability but I am intimidating in size. I have some strength.
For both of you, what would you say make Rogue One different or special compared to other Star Wars stories?
Alan Tudyk: It's got like a dirt-under-the-fingernails feel to it. It's like a war movie. It was shot like that. Gareth [Edwards] was literally in the trenches - there were trenches - and he's down there with the camera. At first I thought, "Let somebody else do it. That's kinda sad."
Riz Ahmed: He's kinda no holds barred. He's kinda raw. He's like a snail out of its shell. He's just all laid bare, ya know?
Alan Tudyk: That's why I was always pouring salt on his tail. Just as a way of giving a goof.
Thanks for your time guys. Good luck with the release. Cheers!
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From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.