Actor Alan Tudyk is used to doing the interesting bits
Alan Tudyk is another of that legion of film actors who aren't anybody's idea of a household name. Before this summer. He's 36, a native...
The Orlando Sentinel
Alan Tudyk is another of that legion of film actors who aren't anybody's idea of a household name. Before this summer.
He's 36, a native of El Paso, was in "Spamalot" and "Prelude to a Kiss" on Broadway, has been in such films as "28 Days" and "Patch Adams," had supporting roles on TV in such series as "Firefly" and "C.S.I."
You might, as the old saying goes, know the face, but you don't know the name. But say "Steve the Pirate" to any "Dodgeball" fan and watch them grin.
If you saw him in "Knocked Up," you'll remember Tudyk, the uptight E! network TV exec who wants to tell his new star (Katherine Heigl) she needs to lose weight. Without actually saying it.
"I was given a basic action, 'Promote her, and talk her into losing weight without actually saying that. Aaaaaand ACTION!"' Tudyk says. "All I had to do to prep for that was turn on the TV to E! They're always so excited, so cheerful, so ready to dish, to talk about Hollywood, so willing to make the most inane things seem important. 'What was she wearing on her feet? Coming up next on E!"'
He delivers the biggest laughs in "Death at a Funeral," playing a meek fiance who comes unhinged when he takes a drug trip right in the middle of a very proper British country funeral, a character Tudyk "plays with a wildly inventive glee," Ty Burr wrote in The Boston Globe.
"He made me do take after take — 'Oh no, you're higher than that,"' Tudyk says of director Frank Oz, laughing. "'Your hands are huge. Everything's distorted.' They call it a 'drug trip' for a reason, because you go so many different places. We really took the time to explore them."
And here he is again, as Doc, the hapless sawbones roped into a posse escorting a murderous gang-leader (Russell Crowe) to a distant train station and justice in the Western "3:10 to Yuma."
"They gave me what I call 'character glasses' for that one," Tudyk says. "Something about the Old West and doctors says 'spectacles.' And drunk. Luckily for me, I'm from Texas. So I was comfortable around horses. But I had to hang around the wranglers on the set just to get really casual around horses, the way they are.
"I played him as a bit of a drunk, but that didn't really make it to the final cut of the movie."
Tudyk is in that "happy place" for character actors, where "you don't have to carry a movie. You go from job to job, trying a lot of different roles, trying to make an impression. I still have to audition for parts. For me, getting 'hot,' is moving to the head of the line for auditions."
His first break had him playing "the gay German" in "28 Days," and after that "I got offered a lot of gay guys. Then, came 'A Knight's Tale,' and I got offered a lot of angry guys. Then, 'angry gay guy' roles. Not a lot of pirates after 'Dodgeball,' but you see where this is going."
So he plugs along from job to job, making his mark, building an actor's career. It's all about the body of work, getting noticed, networking. He's thrilled to hear his "28 Days" director, Betty Thomas, is now handling what will be a farcical take on "Dallas," the old TV show.
"Have they cast Sue Ellen yet?" Tudyk shouts into the phone. "I'm a character actor. I can do it! Get me a wig.
"You learn it the first day in acting school. 'Just feeling isn't very interesting. You've got to enjoy it, take it on out there.' I hope I do."
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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