Alan Tudyk is one of the stars of NBC’s new superhero sitcom “Powerless.” After honing his chops at Julliard, he’s spent most of his career in outer space. He starred in the cult TV hit “Firefly” and lent his voice to a slew of films, including “i, Robot” and “Star Wars Rogue One.” Fun fact: Alan’s movies have made $2.1 billion dollars at the box office… that’s more than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Check out his list, in which he sings the praises of his robot heroes.
No. 1 robot that is on probably everybody’s list, Twiki. He was on “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” So, “Buck Rogers” was a TV Show back in ’79. And Buck Rogers, played by Gil Gerard, he was frozen in space. And then he wakes up in the 25th century and behold, everything has changed.
You know what, I have vague memories of this. I was actually pretty young. But you know who I do remember? Twiki.
He’s like one of the first mullet robots, if not the only mullet robot. He always said, “Beedee beedee beedee,” and then he spoke whatever he wanted to say. “Beedee beedee beebdee, what do you think is going on” with that voice.
I can’t do the voice justice because the voice was done by Mel Blanc, who was Bugs Bunny. Who was the ever-racist Speedy Gonzalez. Who was the questionable Pepe Le Pew, who had a lot of personal boundary issues with the ladies.
So, Mel Blanc, he does Twiki, and when he talks, you can kind of hear echoes of other voices that he’s done. You know, they’ll be like the, “beedee beedee beedee,” it’s a bastardization of his very famous Porky Pig [attempts Porky Pig impression]. I can’t do it because he’s Mel Blanc. To know that it’s Mel Blanc, you don’t get better than that. You don’t. Come on!
No. 2 is Data, played by Brent Spiner, for “Star Trek: Next Generation.” I watched this show when I was older. Obviously, it was not ’79 anymore. And I appreciated his work as an actor. He was able to capture this, non-human life form in human form.
Physically, Brent Spiner was so contained. It was like he was devoid of facial expressions, but he could still emote. He couldn’t understand how people felt, he only understood them from a computer’s perspective, so it was a lot of, “What does this signify?” And, “Why did you hug them?”
He also played his own creator, who created him in his image. So you got to see him be human, as well as an android. Watching it as a young actor, it was amazing to watch his range and just his control.
No. 3, Douglas Rain, voicing HAL, from 2001 Space Odyssey. He was the computer, he was the robot voice. You would say, “Maybe he’s not a robot. He’s not an android.” But I am deciding what is a robot right now, and I say, “He’s a robot! He’s a robot!”
The only thing you see of HAL is that glowing red eye. And he’s very calm, and certain, about killing them [humans]. He’s everywhere. He’s hard to hide from. He can read lips. And they’re trying to reason with him, but he’s got the controls.
He was so creepy, and [mimics HAL 9000 voice] if you talk like this, everyone knows who you are. And there is that phobia of computers taking over — which they will. And before they destroy us, we can all enjoy the robots we make, but when they do destroy us, it will sound a lot like that. [Imitates HAL voice again] “What are you doing?”
We’re so dependent now on technology, that the HAL thing is realer than it’s ever been. Maybe it’s called Waze, who told me to go through a Denny’s parking lot last night to get to where I was going. Like, who does that? I don’t! That alley? Is that what I’m supposed to go through? “Yes, Alan. Go through the alley.”