Alan Tudyk discusses his 'Dollhouse' role
How a Pictionary game led the 'Firefly' star's reunion with Joss Whedon
[This article contains spoilers from the "Briar Rose" episode of FOX's "Dollhouse."]
Imagine a Pictionary game at Nathan Fillion's house, populated by familiar faces from the Whedonverse. For many a "Buffy," "Firefly" and "Dollhouse" fan, that would be a fantasy-come-true. For Alan Tudyk, it turned out to be business as well as pleasure.
On last Friday (May 1) night's "Dollhouse," Tudyk first appeared as the socially anxious designer of the Dollhouse's underground environments, but in one of the series' big shockers, he was later unveiled as Alpha, a mentally unstable active with a murderous streak.
Speaking with reporters just days after the big "Dollhouse" reveal, Tudyk admitted that Joss Whedon first told him about the part during a break in a Pictionary game hosted by their "Firefly" colleague.
"He set me up really well because he didn't tell me he was offering it to me or that he wanted me for the role when he first described it," Tudyk recalls. "He laid it out like the role does this, and he does this and he’s this composite of these people. He gave me a full scope of the guy that he was this person who was obsessed with Echo and was 43 people at once and has all of these skill sets crammed into one, but because he’s 43 people at once, he’s mad. But he can do many things, because he is also 43 people at once and he’s sort of godlike in his own mind. I was like, 'Oh, my God, that’s sounds so amazing. Who’s playing that?' 'I want you to play it.'"
For many episodes, viewers had seen the effects of Alpha's brutality on the face of Amy Acker's Dr. Saunders and heard about Alpha's obsession with Eliza Dushku's Echo, but Tudyk enjoyed bringing Whedon's character to life.
"I think I had space to create him, but I was hungry for anything he gave me," Tudyk says. "Any idea he had or any information he could fill in with his vision of Alpha because it’s been shaped by all these other episodes, these different things of what other people have said about him. So I’m adding up everything people have said about him and then going to him and saying, 'Are all of these impressions of Alpha true because they’re saying that’s who he is, but are they right? What is your vision of Alpha?' I was really dependent on his vision because it’s definitely, he’s had this guy in mind since the beginning."
As Tudyk suggested, Alpha's personality is composed of a number of different personalities, all downloaded into one body, giving the character a well-justified God complex.
"[W]hen you’re downloading a bunch of people, you’re downloading perspective and his experience," Tudyk tells reporters. "Somebody can go through one experience and have a conclusion about that and another person could have the same experience and have a different conclusion. Somebody can end up enlightened and somebody else could end up a villain. I think he takes the wrong lessons from his downloaded experiences. He is certainly evolved, but I don’t know, the swine flu is evolution, isn’t it? In a way, it’s an evolution of flu, that’s sort of him."
He continues, "It gives you, I don’t know, a lot to chew on. In this coming episode, you see the effect of what 43 people is on one person. Alpha has a little bit of difficulty controlling him. We all have inner monologues, different voices that chime in throughout our day, different opinions on situations. He’s a little less in control of his opinions. They are full people who all want voices. It takes an effort to maintain order in his brain."
Tudyk, whose "Firefly" character was one of the Whedonverse's most beloved, relished this darker turn, but isn't about to try to change his career path.
"I think it’s rich to get to play the baddies like that, but at the end of the day, I like goofing around on set and joking around with the crew and everything," he says. "When you’re playing somebody who’s as intense as this guy is, I kind of have to be quiet and to myself from time to time and kind of keep my focus. If I was signing up for seven years of one or the other, or had to choose one or the other for the rest of my life, I’d go with the fun loving, funny guy because it’s more fun to play."
Since it's not like Tudyk is going to spoil any of the surprises of the "Dollhouse" finale, it's best to answer the question most fans are probably wondering.
Who's the best at Pictionary?
"Other than me?" Tudyk laughs. "Other than me, Nathan is a very good drawer. He’s very good. I think my team won last time, so Joss did well. He was on my team. It’s a lot of very famous people. It’s very chic, chic, but it was awesome. Joss is a good drawer. Nathan is a good drawer. I’m a good drawer and we won, totally won."
"Omega," the first season finale for "Dollhouse," airs Friday, May 8 at 9 p.m. on FOX.
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