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Alan Tudyk is no stranger to sci-fi conventions. His role as Hoban “Wash” Washburne, the pilot of the spaceship Serenity in Joss Whedon‘s short-live Fox TV Show Firefly, solidified his status as a convention regular.
Now, Tudyk has parlayed his experiences into a Vimeo-distributed web series, Con Man, which he created with his Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion.
Con Man follows the happenings and mis-happenings of Wray Nerely, the star of a much-beloved and swiftly canceled sci-fi TV series, Spectrum, and who is a frequent guest at sci-fi conventions and comic book store appearances. Tudyk plays Nerely, the fame-seeking former onscreen pilot, while FIllion takes on the role of Jack Moore, the now uber successful, one-time captain on Spectrum.
When asked about his first “con,” Tudyk couldn’t remember the name but could recall that is took place in England and “was run by the guy that [he’s] very sure also sold drugs.” One thing he does remember: The fans.
“The sci-fi fans are a great audience, that is why Hollywood wants to capture them,” says Tudyk, who originally conceived of Con Man, the actor’s first foray into writing, as a movie.
Tudyk shopped Con Man around to multiple production companies as a possible TV series, but found that they failed to grasp the nuances of the convention lifestyle. “The only way that the production companies could see the world would insult fans because they didn’t understand it. They would say ‘Those convention nerds, they are so weird.'”
Ultimately, Tudyk and Fillion looked to the fans for help. They funded Con Man using an Indiegogo campaign, receiving over $3 million, and landed a distribution deal with the online video-sharing service.
“This way we were able to make a comedy that could highlight some of the eccentricities of the world without being rude,” explains Tudyk of going the crowdsourcing route.
Tudyk also reached out to his actor friends, many of whom he met while doing the conventions, to obtain the seemingly never-ending parade of cameos in the web-series. He would go around asking, “Hey, would you do this please I swear it is gonna be funny!” The actor concedes with a laugh: “I was lucky that they were friends.”
Minor roles and walk-ons include turns from Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame and Samwise Gamgee himself, Sean Astin. The Firefly cast also make individual appearances through out the series, and Whedon even has a cameo.
Tudyk has many more conventions in his future thanks to his role in the upcoming Star Wars standalone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards. The prequel (of-sorts) follows rebels on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, but the rest of the plot, including Tudyk’s role in the film, is being kept under wraps.
Currently in London filming the hotly anticipated movie, Tudyk says that when shoots run long he has trained himself to take a moment and appreciate the set.
“You are amazed at what you can look at, because it is a physical world,” he explains. “If there are creatures, then there are creatures; if there are spaceships, then there are spaceships. It’s not huge swaths of green hung from the rafters. You have it all there, and if you don’t have it there then you go fly some place that does.”
After the film’s release, he will no doubt be making the rounds on the convention circuit, collecting material for Con Man season two.
Con Man is now playing on Vimeo.
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Robert De Niro