You know, I really admire Alan Tudyk’s current tendency to be the Ed Wynn of our generation. In fact, he’s seen as a good luck charm for Disney right now, appearing in every animated feature since Wreck-It Ralph. He’s even pretty much the only person not of native Pacific Islander descent to appear in Moana, though his reaction to voicing a chicken is, “I went to Julliard, you know.” Still, voicing a chicken definitely pays the bills for him, and we’re talking about a man who wanted to be a hotel manager in high school rather than be an actor, because hotel managers got paid.
He knew, though, that acting was just what he was going to do. After all, not a lot of hotel managers have been to Julliard, one suspects. He left stand-up after an audience member threatened to kill him, which I don’t really blame him for. But he also left Julliard. Within a year, he was in his first movie, opposite Sandra Bullock and Viggo Mortensen. He had a few uneven years in the late ’90s, though he did make his Broadway debut in ’99.
He first came to my attention as the prosaic Wat in A Knight’s Tale, childhood friend to Heath Ledger’s William Thatcher. Admittedly a lot of the rest of the cast drew more notice—Rufus Sewell and Paul Bettany, for example—but still, he’s pretty decent in it. It’s a silly movie, but one of which I’m still fairly fond. And then shortly after that, he got cast on a little science fiction show for Fox that I never did see in its initial run.
I’ve said for years that any number of my male friends think they’re Jayne but are really Wash. But that’s okay inasmuch as I actually like Wash. He’s sweet, charming, and funny. He’s a talented pilot. And he absolutely adores that his wife is tougher than he is. He loves her because of her ferociousness, loves his beautiful Amazon. Their relationship works in a way that few marriages in pop culture do, simply because each one is willing to let the other one play to their strengths. He’s a goof, but she needs a bit of goofiness in her life and loves him for it.
And now, it’s a bit of a game to me to find him in Disney movies. He’s the Duke of Weselton and Duke Weaselton, Heihei and King Candy. He was Knowsmore and will be Iago, apparently. In other work, he was K-2SO. He’s been the Green Arrow and will be the Joker. And that’s in addition to his ongoing live-action work. He has had quite a career and will have more to come, in my opinion. After all, Disney’s going to be using him for many years to come even if he doesn’t do anything else.