Denver Comic Con – Spotlight on Alan Tudyk
Alan Tudyk took the stage to loud and enthusiastic applause. He thanked the audience, pointed out that he was the first main event guest of the con, and admitted “I’m overwhelmed.” Moderator Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bring It On) invited Tudyk to sit in front of, rather than behind, the table that had been set up for them, making things more friendly and informal.
Tudyk began with a quick recap of his project Con Man and its monumentally successful Indiegogo campaign (735 percent of goal met!). He told us that, pre-Firefly, he was acquainted with “just the basics” of the sci-fi genre, e.g., the Star Wars films, Star Trek: The New Generation. But post-Firefly, he’s learned so much more about fandom, how unique it is, and how encouraging and supportive we are of each other. What he wants to do with Con Man, besides entertain, is to share and celebrate fandom.
He reminisced for a while about Firefly. “We’re the A-Team in space,” he conceived of the series at the time, “and I was Murdoch.” He briefly mentioned the original actor for the role of Inara (“The Nivea girl” was all he could come up with), and cheekily added, “I could recast a few.” Filming the blindfolded torture scene in the episode “War Stories” counted as a favorite memory. Tudyk acknowledged that Wash wasn’t the most macho character, and detailed a sequence he imagined: Jayne and Book, in the Firefly’s gym, would tease Wash about his apparent lack of masculine prowess, whereupon Wash would tear off his shirt, unveiling not only a ripped physique but also various prison tattoos. Jayne and Book would marvel at the penitentiaries where Wash served time. He would then lie down to do a bench press…and the bar would crash down on his neck.
And as for (spoiler alert!) Wash’s death in Serenity, he explained that Joss Whedon chose to kill off the most sympathetic and unexpected character to crank up the intensity and direness of the following scenes. In the end, completely logical, but Tudyk cracked, “I was lobbying for someone else.” He bribed/rewarded audience members brave enough to ask questions by signing and giving away miscellaneous paraphernalia: frozen script pages (including some scenes or dialogue that didn’t make it to the screen); various production lists for Con Man, which occasionally had sensitive information and so he had to scramble for replacements; promo cards for Spectrum, the fictitious series from Con Man (“I think it kind of looks like a penis,” he said of the spaceship); and, when he depleted all these items, a Claritin box and a single-dose pack of Advil (the recipient promised not to sue for medical malpractice).
One person asked about A Knight’s Tale. He warmly recalled how thoughtfully Heath Ledger provided solace and kind words when they learned that a mutual friend had died. Tudyk enjoyed the five months’ filming in Prague, with its many opportunities for convivial (read: drinking) activities with the rest of the cast. He considers Simon in Death at a Funeral his most difficult role: “I was naked for days, and I ended up being good and I don’t know how that happened and I was playing the guy!” Little did we know that he filmed five deaths as Stephen Douglas in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, ably and hilariously impersonating the director, Timur Bekmambetov. And will there be a sequel to the hillbilly “We’ve had a doozy of a day” Tucker & Dale vs. Evil? Tudyk replied that there is indeed a script for one, but it is in a hopeless stage of revision, so right now, it looks like not.
He mentioned the controversial post-Firefly Whedon series Dollhouse, saying that his role as Alpha was hard to play, given that it was a non-comedic part. And it does seem that he gravitates toward funny characters, and for this hour, he kept us laughing and very entertained with his jokes, imitations, and asides delivered with devastating comic timing. At a different panel, Jewel Staite (so regrettable when castmates slip by each other at a con) said that the hardest thing about working with Alan Tudyk is to keep from laughing. She’s completely correct.