As the first film of its kind, there’s no doubt that Rogue One will shake up the Star Wars universe as we know it. The film will add another perspective to the story we know so well, showing the darker side of war and taking us among the ranks of Rebel soldiers.
Jyn Erso’s team of rebels — formed to steal the plans to the Death Star — are certainly an eclectic bunch. There’s the rogue wildcard (Jyn herself), the Rebel soldier (Cassian Andor), two freedom fighters (Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus), and two reformed Imperial soldiers (Bodhi Rook and K-2SO).
Of these, it’s Bodhi and K-2SO that are really something new. Until Finn in The Force Awakens, the Star Wars Saga (post prequels) has only shown the perspective of the Rebellion. When working as a freight pilot for the Empire, Bodhi reached his breaking point when ordered to do something he just couldn’t do, as Riz Ahmed revealed at Star Wars Celebration.
“He’s from an occupied planet, and it’s the stuff he’s forced to be involved with there is when he begins to question the Empire.”
But while Bodhi left the Empire of his own free will, K-2SO seems to have been captured and reprogrammed by Cassian. Which may have been the best thing that ever happened to him.
As Alan Tudyk revealed to Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One will show the more vicious side to droids who serve the Empire.
Until this point, the vast majority of the droids in the Star Wars films have been used for comic relief, from R2-D2’s indignant beepings and C-3PO’s uppity obstinance, to the perpetually idiotic battle droids of the prequels. There have been darker, more violent droids — Mr Bones of the canon book Aftermath, and HK-47 from the game Knights of the Old Republic spring to mind — but so far the Star Wars films featured silly or cutesy droids.
K-2SO is neither of these things.
“He was a security droid in the Empire and they sort of enforce whatever needs to be enforced. They are imposing. He’s 7-foot-1, and follows orders pretty well. If you’re asked to be detained, he can detain you. They stand guard, and if somebody doesn’t mind them, they’ll… They’ll enforce the sh– out of [people.]”
So, Tudyk’s character clearly has a chequered past. This begs the question of whether K-2SO wanted to be the Empire’s enforcer, and what he felt about oppressing people — if he felt anything at all. You can expect Rogue One to dive right into the moral and existential themes of K-2SO’s story, especially as Tudyk explains that the reason his droid is so fiercely loyal to Cassian is because the rebel soldier was the one to reprogram him.
“He wants what Cassian wants. He loves Cassian, because he freed him. It’s also more paternal in that [Cassian] gave him life and took away the bonds of his programming.”
After watching Rogue One, you might start questioning the morality of using all the droids in Star Wars for service — is programming a droid, who is sentient, to do something just another form of slavery?
K-2SO Speaks His Mind
And yet, K-2SO’s role in Rogue One isn’t just about redefining the role of droids in the entire saga: Strangely enough, it seems as though he might provide a lot of the humor of the movie.
K-2SO is honest to a fault, dispensing with silly human notions such as tact or discretion, because according to Tudyk, he “has no filter… he can say insulting things very casually if he thinks they’re true.” This will make for more than a few awkward and amusing circumstances, but it’s not just bluntness on K-2SO’s part that will provide some humor for Rogue One. At Star Wars Celebration Tudyk relayed one of his favorite exchanges from the film:
“They’ll say ‘go get the bags, droid.’ And my character will just say, ‘no’.”
Tudyk described K-2SO as “unsettling at times”, so if this droid will continue the tradition of comic relief, you can be sure that humor will be dry, and dark.
It’s great to know that the notions of droid agency — of the boundaries of programming and artificial intelligence’s capability to decide for itself — is finally being explored in the Star Wars films. These are themes which have been expanded on in the novels and games, but so far the droids of the movies have been cute or funny little machines (for the most part).
With Alan Tudyk’s K-2S0 as a badass Imperial turncoat, we’re finally going to see some depth to one of Star Wars’ most interesting subsets of characters. And it’ll be delightful to watch “Kaytoo” rub the rest of the rogues up the wrong way.
For more from our Celebration coverage, check out Rebels’ Sam Witwer explaining some Star Wars mythology…
…and tell us in the comments: What are you most excited to see in Rogue One?
MP staff writer and editor. I talk about superheroes a lot. Sometimes I’m paid for it.