In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
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Name: Alan Tudyk
Profession: Actor, writer, director, below-average carpenter.
Notable Work: Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, I, Robot, Dodgeball, Death at a Funeral, Suburgatory, Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Con Man (coming soon)
“Wash does a lot of this; I land the spaceship and I go ‘Be careful, everybody!’ and then they do these extraordinary things and they come back and I go, ‘Thank God you made it! Strap in, I’m going to fly!’ I do the babysitting job on the spaceship.” – Alan Tudyk (SFX Magazine – 2004)
Alan Tudyk may very well be the funniest guy on TV. Some of my favorite Firefly moments are chalked up to Wash’s gut busting one liners. “If I were unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.” Every time I see this guy onscreen, I get all giddy, regardless of the role. He’s simply a joy to watch.
Tudyk was born March 16, 1971 in El Paso, Texas but raised in Plano, Texas. He had a brief experience as a stand up comedian but stopped due to an audience member threatening to kill him. Luckily for us, he didn’t give up on acting and studied drama as Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas where he won the Academic Excellence for drama. He briefly attended the prestigious Juilliard conservatory, but dropped out in 1996 without earning a degree. A few years later, Tudyk made his Broadway debut in Epic Proportions in 1999. He would go on to perform in Wonder of the World, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Misalliance, Oedipus and Bunny Bunny. He also filled in for Hank Azaria in Spamalot in 2005.
Tudyk’s career really took off when he was cast as the lovable pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne in Joss Whedon’s beloved and short-lived science fiction western Firefly. While the series only lasted 14 episodes, it remains a major staple in pop culture with some of the most avid fans in the world. Tudyk is astoundingly funny and charismatic in his role. Wash’s wisecracking, sarcastic attitude and undying loyalty to his loved ones is what makes him such a wonderful character. It’s also what makes his *SPOILER* death in the cinematic reprise Serenity so gorram heartbreaking.
Tudyk also played the hauntingly deranged maniac, Alpha in the also short-lived Whedon series Dollhouse. Don’t get me wrong. I love Wash. He’s probably my favorite Tudyk character, but Alpha is deliciously insane and Tudyk’s portrayal of him is quite possibly the best acting of his career. Plagued with hundreds of different personalities floating around in his noggin, Alpha’s constantly shifting demeanor and sociopathic mannerisms are heart pounding to watch. Tudyk is great as Wash, but his range is best shown in Dollhouse.
Tudyk’s latest project, Con Man, has Firefly fans absolutely ecstatic. Also starring Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion, Con Man is Tudyk’s very own brainchild. He not only stars in the upcoming web series, but also acts as screenwriter, director, and co-producer. Fillion is also co-producing alongside science fiction writer PJ Haarsma. Con Man tells the story of Wray Nerely (Tudyk) who a spaceship pilot on a canceled science fiction series similar to Firefly called Spectrum. His friend Jack Moore (Fillion) played the captain of the ship and has gone on to become a widely successful A-List actor. Meanwhile, Wray struggles to be happy with his lesser known career, traveling from convention to convention as he makes appearances for the sake of his fans. The series will explore the nuances of convention life and fan culture.
Here’s how Hollywood works. You write a script, you get an agent, that agent proposes your script to a production company and then, hopefully, it gets sent to a bunch of bigwig network people who will pay for it. It’s a grueling process and it takes years. Sometimes you can skip a few hoops if you’re a big name actor, writer, or director or if you work as a reader for a production company, but for the most part, you’re at the mercy of the system. And even if you do get picked up, your project can go any number of ways, including being canceled before its prime. Tudyk said “Eff that!” and took his project to Indiegogo. “It’s not that I have trust issues…” Tudyk joked in his campaign video. Instead of giving his project to a network who might not appreciate the concept and royally screw it up, he reached out to his fans to help fund the web series. He wanted the show to be backed by people who actually understood the nuances of convention life i.e. those who attend them. The initial goal was $425,000 for three episodes. What Tudyk and Fillion wound up with by the end of their campaign was $3,156,234 for 12 episodes and a “lost” episode of Spectrum. In only 24 hours the project raised $1 million, a new record in web series funding. There will also be a Con Man comic book, game, and DVD.
The project will begin filming in June to be released in September through Vimeo’s on demand service. The series will also include actors Seth Green, Felicia Day, James Gunn and Gina Torres. All twelve ten minute episodes will be released simultaneously, so make time in your schedule to binge watch this Fall. I certainly will be forgoing homework for the occasion. Scholarship be damned! I aim to misbehave!
Come see Alan Tudyk at Denver Comic Con this weekend where he will be speaking at two panels, signing autographs, taking photos and possibly pulling inspiration for his new project! Autographs are $40 and photos are $50, cash only. Tudyk will be at the convention Saturday and Sunday.
Photos and Firefly clip courtesy of 20th Century Fox. Video courtesy of Indiegogo.