Now, we know what you're thinking. As soon as we evoke the words 'comic relief' within the realm of Star Wars, you're automatically thinking of the monstrosity that is Jar-Jar Binks, correct? Well here's why Rogue One's scene-stealing sidekick puts the memory of Jar-Jar to rest once and for all.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
He's played by the brilliant Alan Tudyk
If you thought Andy Serkis was the motion capture master based on the likes of Gollum and King Kong, spare a thought for Alan who in 2004 invested compassion, depth and wonder to his role as robot Sonny in I, Robot (see below). Broadly speaking motion capture means the actor performs their scenes in a special suit with their movements interpreted by a computer, later converted into CGI wonder for our entertainment.
I, Robot laid the groundwork for Alan's superb performance as K-2SO, a re-programmed Imperial droid who fights for the rebel cause alongside Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Tudyk brings his sense of physicality and distinctive voice to bear on this potentially forgettable character, transforming him into a gangly, sarcastic oddball who becomes a valued member of the Rogue One team.
In fact, Alan was born to do this
Not only does the actor have the physical chops to pull off the challenge of playing this character. His vocal mannerisms are also key to making it sell – at the end of the day, we don't get to see him on-screen so the voice is everything. Thankfully Alan's got that sewn up as well having lent his larynx to recent Disney classics Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, voicing baddie King Candy in the former and Duke in the latter.
In fact his voiceover acting career is amazingly extensive, covering everything from the Puss in Boots animated series to Robot Chicken and American Dad! It's therefore little wonder that K-2SO's personality has resonated with audiences worldwide. And did you know he even provided the voice of bumbling chicken Heihei in recent Disney hit Moana? You do now.
Crucially, he's not annoying!
Jar-Jar Binks, with the greatest of respect, was a blithering miscalculation on the part of George Lucas. But K-2SO actually plays an important function within the Rogue One storyline, moderating the gritty war movie storyline with a nice sense of acerbic sarcasm and in the process helping to alleviate the tension. As Cassian wryly observes: "He says whatever comes into his circuits."
Our favourite moment? Following an ambush on our rebel heroes by Stormtroopers in the desert city of Jedha, the droid saves them by casually setting off an bomb, dryly remarking: "Perhaps it would better if I'd stayed on the ship".
In fact, we actively grow to care about him
Given Rogue One's climax leads into the opening of A New Hope, it's not all that surprising to learn that our scrappy band of anti-Imperial fighters are doomed from the outset. One of the triumphs of the movie is dramatically investing us in their destiny, even when it has been written in the very stars themselves, but the one that gets us deeply is the fate of K himself who, in the final stages, protects Jyn and Cassian from invading troopers as they steal the Death Star plans.
Despite valiantly putting up a fight he finally succumbs to the onslaught of blaster attacks and perishes, in the process evoking more than a few poignant tears. That we can feel so deeply for a hulking, walking hunk of metal is testament to the writing of the character and also Alan's terrific performance.
(Plus, Jar-Jar never made us feel anything like that. Only anger.)