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Alan Tudyk, the voice and motion-capture actor who lends his voice and presence to K-2SO, says when he was first cast to play the droid, he felt as though it was his responsibility to bring the robot to life.
“K-2SO does have some moving parts on his face,” he says in PEOPLE’s Stars Wars: The Secrets of Rogue One special issue. “His eyes are mobile and can tell the story that my eyes did. There is expression within K-2 that the CGI allows for — more than we’ve seen in any other Star Wars droid, for sure.”
While Tudyk, 45, could have technically filmed his entire role in a studio thanks to animation technology, the actor felt it was imperative to the film that he was present on set.
“I was on set the whole time,” he says. “It’s essential. To not have an actor there hobbles your ability to actually capture a true moment.”
He says being on set helped make his performance with his fellow costars feel more real.
“You can have emotion without another actor there and it will read like emotion, but if it isn’t connected to someone in the room and something that’s happening within the story, then it’s just a general feeling,” he adds of filming scenes alongside Diego Luna and Felicity Jones. “We were acting together.”
To better embody the 7-ft. droid, Tudyk tried out bionic limbs and walked on stilts that allowed him to feel more like K-2SO.
Tudyk says he feels lucky that he didn’t have to put on a full costume every day, much like Anthony Daniels did while playing C-3PO.
“I certainly did not want to put on a suit,” he jokes. “I like CGI.”
Check out PEOPLE’s Stars Wars: The Secrets of Rogue One, on newsstands now and featuring a virtual-reality bonus including goggles (here’s how to assemble them!). To watch the full experience and explore more exclusive virtual reality content, download the LIFE VR app for iOS and Android or visit time.com/life
If you don’t have goggles, check out the 360° video above, explorable by clicking and dragging your mouse across the screen. You’ll visit the Rogue One set and go behind the scenes of a battle between rebels and stormtroopers — a stunning interactive experience available exclusively from PEOPLE. Then get goggles and experience it in virtual reality!
Rogue One hits theaters Dec. 16.