Fans of Suburgatory and Firefly know actor Alan Tudyk as the actor with an open face and daft smile while the audiences that saw I, Robot remember the humanity he invested in a character of man-made machinery. This weekend, however, the audiences that sat down in the dark for the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 saw a startling new aspect of the 42-year-old actor’s craft. Playing Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who more than any other character in the film embodies the angry face and venomous voice of mid-century racism in America, Tudyk taunts Robinson (newcomer Chadwick Boseman) with a relentless geyser of vile and humiliating epithets.
“The way Brian saw this role and the reason he wanted me in the role [was] he didn’t want a straight-up villain,” says Tudyk, who has been good friends with writer/director Brian Helgeland since working together on the medieval adventure A Knights Tale. “He didn’t want the kind of the guy that everybody sees come on screen and the minute they see him they say, ‘Oh, I hate this guy.’ He wanted somebody that might be funny. If you read up on it and go back, the people who knew Ben Chapman really liked him, they thought he was a good guy. He wasn’t viewed as a villain. When he comes up out of the dugout and yells all these insults, there’s a lot of it that he’s doing to entertain his players and it has this schoolyard quality to it: ‘You doing a little dance for us, ‘Jangles? You can do it, can’t you? You can dance, you got rhythm.’” READ FULL STORY