One of the best fun facts on the just-released “Rogue One” Blu-ray is that the snarky, reprogrammed K-2SO droid was initially envisioned as the anti-C-3PO. That helps explain why he evolved into the seven-foot, black, elegant scene-stealer voiced by Disney’s go-to comedian, Alan Tudyk (“Zootopia,” “Moana”).
“I was intrigued with a much broader diversity in the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” said John Knoll, the creator and executive producer of “Rogue One,” as well as chief creative officer of Industrial Light & Magic.
“As originally conceived, the group of characters was patterned after a heist movie or ‘Mission: Impossible’ with complementary skills,” Knoll said. “And K-2 offered unused capabilities from C-3PO. He can think fast and advise on the smartest choices. When he shoots, he never misses, and he’s ultra precise in motion.”
Knoll’s initial design concept for K-2 was a black variation of C-3PO, thinking he came from the same factory. But that changed when director Gareth Edwards came aboard. In looking over unused drawings from “Star Wars” concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, Edwards was drawn to a tall, thin robot. They went with the design for K-2 and made it black, complementing the new Death Troopers from “Rogue One.”
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It was also decided early on to make K-2 computer-generated, but with a light mo-cap footprint for Tudyk (who wore stilts on set) and with rotating eyes for greater expression.
“Apart from him being in the motion-capture suit, they could ignore the visual effects like when you shoot any other part of the movie,” Knoll said. “And having Alan there to look into the actors’ eyes and have them play off each other, that’s why he’s so good in the movie.”
Plus the fact that Tudyk improvised most of his best lines. Said Knoll, “When K-2 is jealous of Jyn [Felicity Jones] getting a blaster and asks what the odds are of using it on Cassian [Diego Luna], he ignores him, so Alan came up with the line: ‘It’s high. It’s very high.'”
As Tudyk explained in the K-2 Blu-ray bonus feature: “Not only does he speak his mind when he shouldn’t, he also has free will. He can be violent, cold, he’s funny, he’s helpful…[but] he’s a terrible spy.”
Knoll said that the unfiltered K-2 came about in an early draft of the script when interference from a magnetic field made him goofy. “We simplified the story, but liked the idea of K-2 not having a filter as a by-product of reprogramming.”
So is there a possibility of doing a K-2 standalone or bringing him back in a future “Star Wars” movie?
“The fact that there are other enforcer droids like that in the Empire somewhere, while it wouldn’t necessarily be that K-2, you could re-program another one,” Knoll said. “But we’ll see what the story group decides. The really obvious possibility is that the ‘Rebels’ animated TV show takes place literally right up to the time that ‘Rogue One’ is taking place. You could imagine that there could be some kind of crossover there.”