Do androids dream of electric sheep?
While the titular question of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel may have originally applied to the character of Rick Deckard, it might as well also be applied to all droids across the pop culture spectrum. And when they aren’t dreaming, do androids get threatened by other droids, do they hang out with one another, and are they even happy?
Cue Alan Tudyk. While talking with the actor at Atlanta’s Dragon Con last weekend to promote the second season of his web series Con Man, as well as the Con Man: The Game mobile app, we diverged into a conversation about droid “life.” Not only is Tudyk appearing as the new K-2SO imperial droid, via a motion-capture performance, in December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but he also has previous droid work in I, Robot as the emotionally aware robot, Sonny.
Tudyk and I had a brief conversation about droids and his role of “Kaytoo.” While much of the movie is still shrouded in secret, he did reveal a bit about Kaytoo’s personality, how his mo-cap performance was casual, and whether he got tips from fellow famous ‘bots Brent Spiner and Anthony Daniels.
With K-2SO, a droid model we’ve not seen before, is that a character who would be affected if he found out there were more famous droids like a C-3PO or R2 out there? Does he have that kind of ego?
[laughs] No. No. No. He doesn’t care. He is odd. I described him as just saying what’s on his mind, and kind of like an old person or a child that speaks what he thinks. So those types of things wouldn’t bother him. He is more interested in what’s right in front of him.
There’s Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He is a bit of a downer. C-3PO is constantly worrying. Is droid life necessarily a bit of a bummer? Can you not be a happy droid?
I know! They do tend to be jaded. I guess when you deal in facts, it’s rough. You know the percentages, the likelihood of things. There is that whole thing in the Star Wars books and stuff – the droid/slave parallel of servitude. He was an Imperial droid, and came from a place of servitude, where they regularly wiped their memories so they don’t become self-aware, and choosing what they want. That was his background. And when he came to over to the Rebel side, Cassian [Diego Luna] changed that. He gave him his free will. I don’t think he’s jaded, he’s just like a child. But children are happy. He’s not unhappy, he has fun. He does. You’ll see.
Children are happy, but they also cut through the B.S. more because they haven’t learned to B.S. yet.
Yeah, and he does do that. He can get in that way that a child doesn’t want to share. Or will feel personally slighted. Not in a C-3PO way of, “This is awful, we’re all going to die.” He has moments that are less “We are all” and more “I am.” He gets into the “I am” moments. He is more self-centric.
Because of your real-life Con Man web series experiences, have you found yourself in a room with a Brent Spiner and Anthony Daniels, trading war stories about being a droid?
Anthony Daniels, certainly when I was on Star Wars, we had a conversation. He was a bit jealous of my motion-capture suit. When I told him I was mo-capping it, he called me a “s***.” He said, "You’re lucky." He has more than a little C-3PO in him. But I definitely have not talked to Brent Spiner. I have never met him, and I’d love to because he’s a very good actor. At all the cons, and I’ve been around a lot of those Star Trek cast members, but not him.
Does the mo-cap work on Rogue One or I, Robot present a particularly unique challenge for mo-capping a character that is typically thought of as stiff?
It was with I, Robot, because that was very particular. It was a lot stiffer than Kaytoo. He was a lot more robotic. It seems silly to say, but he is much more of a machine. Kaytoo can be casual. He still walks as a droid. I was on 10-inch stilts, so that affected a lot of how I walked, and I was 7’1”, and I had to learn to run in sand. That was tough in stilts.
Don't miss the first part of our conversation with Tudyk, where we take a deep dive into S2 of Con Man, and how Con Man: The Game is like reality.