K-2SO, the reprogramed Imperial droid who helped the Rebels steal plans for the Death Star, was Rogue One’s breakout character. As played by Alan Tudyk, the rude droid with a heart of gold (or, uh, copper wiring) made an impression that went far beyond “evil C-3PO.” However, as a new interactive making-of featurette premiering on Inverse explains, that’s just what he was originally meant to be.
Doug Chiang, the co-production designer on Rogue One, said that the droid was “very challenging” to design since they were aiming for something that would rival the iconic nature of everyone’s favorite golden protocol droid.
“We took the idea that maybe he was an Imperial version of C-3PO,” Chiang recalled. “In these early designs, it was literally turning C-3PO black and giving it a different head for personality.”
That’s not where they stopped, though. Chiang said they added negative space to K-2SO’S body to make him appear less human. The film’s director, Gareth Edwards, really wanted them to push the envelope, and they experimented with translucent or uncomfortably narrow heads.
“We tried a few that were very scary,” Chiang said. “Since he’s an Imperial droid, he could be a little more threatening visually.”
They eventually turned to a fairly obscure droid from the original trilogy, RA-7. Known for working on the Death Star, these droids had eerie insectoid eyes and a mouth that resembled Darth Vader’s mask. The designers incorporated aspects of this triangular mouth to create the final K-2SO.
Creating K-2SO was one thing, but bringing him to life was another. In the other half of the featurette, Tudyk recalls developing the right British accent for the droid (“Not that the English people are robotic but … they are robots,” he joked) and the goofy costume he sometimes needed to wear while filming. Normally, Tudyk walked on stilts to elevate him to K-2SO’s 7-foot-1-inch height, but sometimes he had to traverse terrain that made those too risky. When that happened, he just had some tall rods with a literal posterboard cutout of K-2SO’s head where it ought to be.
Tudyk said his co-star Diego Luna once told him, “It’s amazing to see how little respect you have on the set right now.”
Check out both videos below.