For today’s #RogueOneEvent interview we’re talking to Mads Mikkelsen who plays Galen Erso (Jyn’s father) and Alan Tudyk who acts and voices K-2SO! IN case you’re just joining in for these interviews, two weekends ago I was among the first people to screen 28 minutes of Rogue One (at Skywalker Ranch of all places). We’ll be seeing the full film on Thursday night (12/15) since we already have our tickets. Reserved seating theaters all the way!
This was a group interview so we’ll jump back and forth, but both men were really fun to chat with (that’s how these end up being with a group of 25 bloggers a fun chat)
Rogue One Interview with Mads Mikkelsen and Alan Tudyk
Can you both tell us a bit about your characters?
Mads: “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, K-2. No, the other hero. The other hero. 😉 (Jyn)”
Alan: “K-2SO is a droid who was formerly of the Empire, and he’s been reprogrammed by Cassian’s character, and has been working with him prior to our introduction, to Jyn, so he’s a soldier in the Alliance. He’s been reprogrammed, the reprogram has caused him to be… free with his own personality, which invites some brutal honesty in moments where honesty isn’t really required, and he can be funny in that way, and sarcastic, passive-aggressive, and all those fun things that sort of sidekicks… although they’re partners, he wouldn’t see himself as a sidekick.”
Did you adlib a lot of that, or was all of that scripted?
Alan: “I luckily got to ad-lib a lot. [The way] Gareth set up the set was really conducive to having fun, and playing around with the characters, and discovering how the scenes fit on the locations that we were shooting them in as opposed to saying, “Here we go, this where you’re gonna be; you’re gonna stand here; you’re gonna move here; this is how it was”. When we would get into this space, we would find the best way to bring life to the scenes, what we were given, and part of that became just saying whatever I wanted. In moments. I don’t want to say I just was off-roading the entire time, I can’t, that becomes problematic in moviemaking. A lot of my improving is based on the line that was there, and it’s just a version of what was there.”
For both of you – how did you find out that you would be working on Star Wars, and what was your initial reaction?
Alan: “How did that happen?”
Mads: “I got a phone call and they asked me, “Where are you?” Uh, well where am I supposed to be? On the set. No, I got a phone call with Gareth. Gareth called me and pitched the story for me and asked me if I wanted to be on board and I didn’t see a necessity of seeing a script, because it was Star Wars, so I said yes right away. And if I hadn’t, if I’d turned it down, I’m sure my kids would’ve killed me.”
Alan: “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, he just wanted to talk about droids and motion capture. I had done a motion capture robot in I, Robot. And so I was like, 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. And 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. Don’t just give ‘em short shrift because you can fix it in post, you’re gonna screw yourself. 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. And then he asked me to audition. I put an audition on tape,recorded it at home with my wife.”
How does that audition go? (Mads is asking questions at this point, just as interested as us)
Alan: “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 it’s like he’s drunk, and he starts to slo-o-o-w… ”
But, did you do it as you? Did you dress up or something?
Alan: “No, I did it as me. I did it three different [ways]. I did it with an American accent; I did it with what is called mid-Atlantic accent, and then I did it with an English accent.
And then he [Gareth] said, “Come meet me at the 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.”
We heard a lot about how everybody became a family on set. Were there ever any moments where it was really like siblings fighting, or did everyone really gel?
Mads: “Well my interaction was not what a lot of people… this gang, I don’t meet too often.”
Alan: “You’re the older brother in college. We don’t get to hang out as much as we’d like to, but you know…”
Mads: “I had quite a few scenes with Felicity, and—and three different versions of her – a four year old, and an eight year old, and then the real deal.”
Alan: “Which one did you like the best?”
Mads: “I loved them all. I spend a lot of time with Ben Mendelsohn.”
Alan: “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 um…. 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; never complained, which was annoying. I complained about her inability to complain, huge point of contention. But you need that on a set, you need a leader, and she’s the lead. If she had set an example of somebody who is always [complaining] then that’s what happens to a set. Everybody becomes that. She wasn’t that. She was a great leader. Certainly better than I was at her age, or, as of yet, It was a blast.”
To Alan: You were literally on fire in your role.
Alan: “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 and suddenly my back gets hot. I think, ‘Oh, ow—ow—ow I’m on fire’! Just a spark hit it and then just spread out. It was very flammable. I didn’t realize it.”
Mads: “They were not aware?”
Alan: “They were not aware.
I wore fire retardant undershirts after that. It hit again, there was a lot of explosions that day. There was amazing pyrotechnics there was one point where we were running on the beach, they had a spaceship land, we’re in a battle, running down this beach, the thing comes over, they’ve got it on a crane, it’s got smoke coming out of the bottom, it lands, troops go out either side, it takes back off again, soldiers are hitting these things that are vaulting them in the air, and falling like that, explosions… they’re like, “That’s your track – aim for that. You don’t wanna get off it because you’ll catch fire. It was madness. It was fun.”
Droids are such an important part of Star Wars. Did you feel pressured to make your character unique, or to match the rest of the droids?
Alan: “I guess I did. I don’t remember it if I did. I just focused on the script, like any job… uh, 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 this bigger than the movie character that’s in his own world, and he assured me that he wouldn’t allow that. He would keep me within the world as long as I was focused on it and I think we did it.”
Before this movie, what were your favorite Star Wars characters?
Mads: “I think it’s Han Solo for me. For the simple reason that he’s not really on anybody’s side, [he’s on] 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.”
Alan: “I like several characters, today, 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 the force. He was magic. He was wise. I liked him.”
Was there a specific location that was challenging?
Mads: “Yeah, all of them, basically. Something funny and interesting happened though. 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 storm troopers, and then I realize, ‘Whoa, I’m in a Star Wars film’ it’s not every day you see storm troopers!
It was raining constantly. It was just 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.”
Alan: “They have a soundstage where it rains… inside. It’s amazing. My character luckily, there’s a rainy day in the spaceship everybody goes out and I go, ‘See ya!’ I’m gonna stay in here.”
So both of you have starred in three recent films (Dr. Strange, Moana, and Star Wars) playing good guys. If you could play a villainous character, who would it be and why?
Mads: “I’ve done a lot of villains; I’ve also done a lot of good guys and also normal people and a butcher once. I think they go hand-in-hand. I mean, 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. But there are a lot of interesting villains out there.”
Alan: “I don’t care if they’re villain or a hero, as long as they have humor. My favorite villain’s have humor in them you know even if it’s evil, they’re just using it to make a point that is murderous. 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 [as Krennic] And to see him do such a dark character with such charm…”
Mads: “You have to be a really nice person to play a good villain.”
AT: “That’s why I had trouble.”
Sometimes it’s more fun to interview actors together like this. I love seeing how they are surprised by the other’s response or play off each other’s answers!
Don’t forget that Rogue One is out officially December 16th! You’ll want to grab your tickets now if you don’t have them already.
I attended the #RogueOneEvent #StarWarsRebelsEvent #MickeyRacersEvent #PinocchioBluray as press. Opinions expressed are my own.