Ever since making his major film debut in Patch Adams (1998), Alan Tudyk has had an impressively diverse acting career. From playing robots in sci-fi films to voicing multiple animated characters in hit films and TV shows — as well as video games — there seems to be very little Tudyk hasn’t done. The Firefly actor sat down for the latest episode of Rolling Stone’s The First Time to share some of his career highlights.
Tudyk kicks things off by discussing how he first got involved in Resident Alien, his new show out now on SYFY. The showrunners had already gone through hundreds of people by the time he auditioned for the lead role in the series. It turned out he was the perfect fit.
“It’s in my wheelhouse,” he says. “He’s an alien inhabiting a human body in a world he doesn’t understand. He creates the words in a way that every word is its own thing. It’s the mechanical work that goes behind making sound, walking, and moving,” Tudyk says. “I’ve done robots. There’s a similarity there.” Having played Sonny in I, Robot (2004) and K-2so in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — both of whom Tudyk elaborates on later in the interview — Tudyk is no stranger to the robot character.
Perhaps best known for playing the role of Wash in the cult favorite TV series, Firefly, Tudyk goes on to share that he was actually already cast for his role by the time he read the script. “I remember when I got the pages I was like, ‘What is this? I can’t audition to go be in a show for seven years… with just two pages of information about it,'” he says. Unsure whether or not he should pursue the opportunity, Tudyk called a friend for advice. “I was like, ‘Should I do this?’ And he said, ‘Who’s doing it?’ I said Joss Whedon [and he was like,] ‘Do it, do it. You gotta do it!’”
After sending in his audition tape, the actor admits that he actually forgot about it until two months later, when he received a call saying he’d been chosen to move forward in the audition process.
“I got a call and they said they want to test [me] for Firefly. I was like, ‘That’s a mistake, I don’t even know what that is. I’ve never heard of it.’” After being reminded of the project, Tudyk went on with the process. “I auditioned [and was cast]. And then I read the script.”
Tudyk also goes into the story of how he first auditioned for the role of the Joker in the animated TV series Harley Quinn. “I was asked by Patrick [Schumacke] and Justin [Halpern] to audition for it. I said ‘Uh, I’ll give it a shot,’” the actor recalls. “And I just threw it on my phone and sent it in like 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe I got it.”
Tudyk also shares what it was like working with Franz Oz on Death at a Funeral (2007) and how he ended up attending a pirate camp while working on Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).