It's not often that a small town girl, like me, gets to sit with the actors who are bringing the most anticipated movie of the year to life – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. At this point, the world is on the edge of their seats just waiting for December 16th to come so we can forget about life and lose ourselves in the Star Wars Universe. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a new addition to the story, I was very eager to speak to Alan Tudyk and Mads Mikkelsen about their roles at k-2SO and Galen Erso! 24 other bloggers and I, got to interview these two entertaining fellas together in a small Lucasfilm theater. It was quite the fun experience as they definitely drew energy from one another.
Who are K-2SO and Galen Erso?
The night before we interviewed these incredible actors, we walked into Skywalker Ranch, say in the same theater as George Lucas sat to screen his films, and watched 28 minutes of special footage from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Honestly, I barely remember it. It was a whirlwind of an experience, but I do remember being so excited about K-2SO. He's a droid who is definitely the comedic relief in this film, so I was really excited to get to know the actor who voiced him. Plus, I knew Mads Mikkelsen played the role of Jyn's father, which is kind of a big deal.
Mads Mikkelsen describes his character, Galen Erso, as “a scientist who works closely with Krennic in the film on a project that has the potential to make the world a better place… and the potential of not doing so.” Don't you love how carefully he chose his words there? I am entirely too interested in knowing exactly what kind of character he's going to be. I must say, the casting is spot on. He definitely looks like a mad scientist if you ask me.
Alan Tudyk immediately made us laugh with his description of K-2SO, as he picked up the small toy on the table in front of him and told us his character was “As pictured here – actual size“. It's funny because I believe K-2SO is 7'0 or even taller. “K-2SO is a droid who was formerly of the Empire and has been reprogrammed by Cassian's character and has been working with him prior to the introduction with Jyn. He's a soldier in the Alliance. The reprogram has caused him to be free with his own personality which invited some brutally honest moments where honesty isn't really required. He can be funny, sarcastic, and passive-aggressive.” Being that Alan Tudyk “got to adlib a lot” I think he's quite the comedian.
Basically, K-2SO is going to be my new favorite character. He's everything that I would want as a sidekick. What do you think? Alan definitely made sure we knew that K-2SO and Cassian are partner's and he's definitely not a sidekick.
“They're partners. He wouldn't see himself as a sidekick.“
A super confident droid? I'll take it.
Getting the role
I think we all wonder wonder it would be like, not only to be cast in a movie, but to be cast in the biggest franchise in the film industry. I know how excited I get to land a campaign with a good client, but to land a role in a huge film must be a dream come true. We all grew up with Star Wars. Alan and Mads describe how it felt to actually get the role!
Mads Mikkelsen had a reaction similar to Diego Luna. Gareth pitched him the idea and he said yes before ever reading a script. All he needed to hear was Star Wars. Despite being a huge Star Wars fan, Mads knew that his kids would kill him if he turned it down. So, he was on board before he even knew what he was doing.
Alan Tudyk's process was a bit different. He literally thought Gareth was simply consulting him about droid and motion capture. He had no idea he was getting the role. “I didn't think he was calling to talk about ME being in [Rogue One]. He just wanted to talk about droid and motion capture. I had done a motion capture robot in I, Robot. So I was like, ‘that makes sense'. I'd be the go-to actor to describe how to do it.” Isn't that funny? The poor guy probably never even entertained the fact that he could be cast in this major role because he wouldn't want to get his hopes up. Little did he know that Rogue One Director, Gareth Edwards, had other plans.
And then… he asked me to audition and I put an audition on tape, recorded it at home with my wife.
Alan Tudyk auditions for a scene that's not in the movie
Auditioning for a role from your living room isn't exactly what we think of when we hear of movie auditions. We just had to know how that process works. I mean, you have no props or anything to help you set the scene. Obviously, Alan Tudyk was enough because he landed the role!
It was a scene that isn’t in the movie. It was a scene where K-2’s—they’re arriving on a planet that has a magnetic field that scrambles his circuitry. And so he’s, like he’s drunk, and he starts to slo-o-o-w… are we there yet? And I think that was the… it was the… I think it’s the only scene I remember.
At this point we were all laughing because Alan Tudyk kicked in his K-2SO voice and talked very slowly. As far as accents go, Alan tried a few that didn't work out. Turns out that being himself was way more successful than his “mid-Atlantic” accent.
Alan finally found out he got the role and it was in a way that he'd never experienced before. “And then somebody said he wants to meet you at Star Wars celebration that was in Anaheim that year, and 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, or we’re going to see people [and] they drag it out. It’s always a little different. 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.
Rogue One filming locations – Challenges and Experiences
Alan begins to tell us about snapping into reality and realizing he's actually in a Star Wars film. I'm pretty sure all of the other bloggers and I, had moments like this while interviewing the cast of Rogue One. So we kinda get it. I mean, we were literally sitting in Lucasfilm HQ as Alan Tudyk told us this story.
We went to Iceland for a week, we shot there, so that was my debut on the film, and my very first scene. I’m walking and walking and I’m meeting Krennic. After five hours of walking alone, they turn up the actors and the stormtroopers, and then I realize, ‘Whoa, I’m in a Star Wars film, because obviously I’ve been walking like in any film – but it’s not every day you see stormtroopers.
Mads Mikkelsen begins to describe how challenging filming was on some days. These are things we don't always think of, as fans. We see the fiction they've created for us, but we don't think that these people are actually filming on location and things like weather you cannot control.
It was raining constantly. It was pouring down. It was windy, chilly, and I was like, ‘God, we’re done here’ but it was such a beautiful place. I love Iceland. And we’re going back to the studio, but they came up with this brilliant idea that—that all the shots inside in the studio should be… in rain. So basically, I am wet the whole film. Those were cold and long days, but yeah. It’s worth it. It looks fantastic on film!
What's the secret formula to a perfect villain?
It must be easy to play the villain or some would think. I don't think so. I think it has to be very difficult to play a villain because you want the audience to love to hate you. You want to make them cringe in all the right ways. You also want them to remember you, talk about you, hang your poster on their wall. So, how to these good guys view villainous characters?
Mads has played a wide range of characters. He's played good guys, bad guys, and normal people. There's one thing every type of character has in common is that they have to be relatable. “You've gotta find something likeable, something you can relate to in a bad guy. And, vice-versa in a good guy. You have to find his flaws, the stuff he or she is struggling with. So for me, they go hand-in-hand.”
Alan's secret formula to a perfect villain (or character in general) is no surprisingly, humor. I think it's safe to say that if he ever plays a villain in anything – he will be a fan favorite.
I don't care if they're a villain or a hero, as long as they have humor. My favorite villains have humor in them. You know even if there's evil, they're using it just to make a point that is, uh, murderous. That's the way my mind bends. It just makes for an easier connection with a character.
Alan then went on to tell us about his failed attempts at prepping to play a bad guy before. He told us that he started speaking in a very low, creepy voice.”Why the hell am I even talking like that? I don't talk like that.” He then describes Ben as a really great villain. “He's such a dark character with such charm. That's what is good.” Mads finished off this discussion by saying:
You have to be a really nice person to play a good villain
In which Alan responded with, “That's why I had trouble.”
Working with the rest of the Rogue One cast
If there's one thing every Rogue One actor told us throughout our day of interviews, it was that working with the cast was like working with family. Everyone meshed well together on and off set. Poor Mads Mikkelsen didn't hang with the cast as much as others because of his role. He did, however, spend a lot of time with every version of Jyn Erso, “a four year old, and an eight year old, and then the real deal.” He also spent a lot of time with Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the role of of Rogue One's villain, Krennic.
It became very brotherly really fast for us.
Even through Alan wasn't physically in the film, he spent a lot of time with the actors. He knew the importance of working with actors around him and not alone in a recording booth. He agreed with the others, “We all got along very well. It was a lot of fun. We plated a lot on set, Diego's just hysterical!” I can totally attest to that because he was quite the entertainer when we interviewed him. He also said that working with Felicity was an incredible experience.
Felicity. I have such a huge respect for her. She was such a leader and a harder worked than anybody. She never complained. Which was annoying. I complained about her inability to complain. She was certainly better than I was at her age or as of yet. I've never had that kind of maturity. It was blast!
Let's talk favorite Star Wars characters
I find it interesting to find out who these actors loved in the Star Wars saga. I wonder if they drew inspiration from these characters. How did their favorite characters make them feel? As Star Wars fans, we all have personal favorites, but who do Mads and Alan love?
It's Han Solo, for me. For the simple reason that he’s not really on anybody’s side—his own side. And obviously Harrison Ford playing him charmingly, it’s just something you can relate to, so you’re not the good, or the bad, but you’re that guy who’s just there for the fun ride, and then he’ll leave you in a second if there’s no money in that, right? It’s just recognizable in a wonderful way. I like him a lot. – Mads Mikkelsen
I like several characters. I like Obi Wan Kenobi. He was just great! He was the one who could say, “These are not the droids you’re looking for” he had—he had the force. He was magic. He was wise. I liked him. I like Guinness, man. That guy’s amazing. – Alan Tudyk
We were lucky enough to take a group photo with these kind gentlemen after the interview was over. And yes, there is a Stormtrooper photobombing us.
See Alan Tudyk & Mads Mikkelsen in Rogue One on 12/16
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.
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