ANTHONY DANIELS AS C-3PO
“IF THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT NEVER EXIST IN THE STAR WARS GALAXY, IT’S PROTOCOL AND ETIQUETTE.”
FORTY YEARS ON, THE LONGEST SERVING STAR WARS CAST-MEMBER ANTHONY DANIELS IS STILL DELIGHTING AUDIENCES AS C-3PO!
Star Wars Insider: Tell us about your history as C-3PO.
Anthony Daniels: It’s odd for me to realize that 40 years of my life have been spent playing C-3PO. He’s changed over the various generations of films because I have been in all seven movies now. I’m the only person to be involved in all of those movies, which is really strange. One of the reasons that it is possible is because C-3PO isn’t human. He’s very human inside: he gets old inside and he gets more tired and cranky inside, but on the outside he’s just who you fi rst met back in 1977. For a lot of people, that’s a very strong connection. It’s helped me be a part of this extraordinary saga. From the concept art, they created a face that has spoken to millions of people around the world. It has connected with them and given them memories for three generations now. When I look at him, I still have that feeling. C-3PO’s face gives the impression that he’s thinking and that he cares; that he’s afraid. He’s always afraid. But for people who don’t know C-3PO, his principal role is protocol and etiquette. Now, if there are two things that never exist in the Star Wars galaxy, it’s protocol and etiquette. He was programmed to make people feel comfortable and for them to make other people feel comfortable. So for the most part, he’s horrifi ed by what he sees going on around him. He abhors space travel; he hates battles and he hates drama. He just wants to be serving the canapés and the cocktails. I think why people relate to C-3PO is because they recognize themselves in him. He can be overt about something he doesn’t like and he can say he wants to go home.
How was it to be reunited with the other classic cast-members?
This is the first time that we have been back in a place that we, funnily enough, belong to. This is our world. All our destinies have changed, and our destinies bring us to where we are today. This is the world we belong in. I was thinking the other day, that way back in 1977, I’d take Mark, Carrie and Harrison to the local Indian restaurant in London. The other night, there we were bowling, in a bowling alley, with Carrie. Tonight, I’m off with Mark and his family to a fish and chip shop in London! That’s the normalcy: you can do wacky stuff in the day, then you do fi sh and chips. Being in scenes with these characters just feels right. Doing a scene with Carrie the other day, particularly when we’re in rehearsal, I can just look straight into her eyes, her beautiful eyes, and she can look straight back to my bloodshot ones, and we have total understanding of what we’re talking about. It must be diffi cult for her and the others, that when I put the face on they’re looking at this gold mask. They have to look straight into that and hopefully remember the emotion that they’d seen on my face. If C-3PO is worried, I’m worried. I’ve said that one of the reasons C-3PO works is the reflected reality of the other actors. If they walk on and working with a gold man doesn’t make sense to them, the audience wouldn’t believe. But their belief passes through their faces to you as a member of the audience. So, to see Carrie looking with great sincerity, and talking with great sincerity to C-3PO is a joy. I think she’s very fond of him too. They’ve been together a long time.
How did you find out that they were making another film?
I first found out that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and as time went on, we all learned that J.J. Abrams was recreating the old world. It was a complete surprise, but when I found out there will be three fi lms and it will complete George’s initial idea of three trilogies, it made sense. Do you have the same costume? C-3PO is pretty much back to how you would remember him. There are tiny nuances that are different. Some of them are technical on the inside, and that’s for me to know. But there are other little editions, and fans will enjoy that. In A New Hope, C-3PO’s left leg was silver, and nobody ever noticed because it was light silver, which would merely refl ect the gold or the desert or the sand. George Lucas’ original idea was that C-3PO had a history. The idea that Star Wars didn’t just happen out of nowhere; it wasn’t page one of a story. It was page a million of an age-old story of good and evil. One of George’s concepts is that characters should be broken down, used, scratched. This makes you think, something has happened in the past. He has a history. Move forward and J.J. Abrams takes that idea several notches higher. C-3PO—I don’t know how he feels about it, but I don’t think he’s happy about it because he is a purist—has a red arm. His left arm is a fairly brutal, red, rusty, sanguine thing. Something has happened to him in the last 30 years. The rebels have had all sorts of dramas, and one of his was clearly losing a limb. In Episode or by Episode IX, it would be nice be back in one piece!
The relationship with R2-D2 is still the same, isn’t it?
When I began working with R2-D2, to improvise a relationship with box. You could almost do this as school exercise to make the audience believe that this box has a personality. I think I achieved it, and Ben Burtt’s sounds made such a difference. Suddenly I was seeing a two-way conversation and it was magical. How was working with real effects and real creatures? One of the reasons Star Wars has maintained its role in popular culture, and grown actually in popular culture, is because of the growth of the digital age. The Star Wars saga grew up the technical age. George Lucas of the top people in that search for technology and its uses. J.J. has done something extraordinary. There are real sets where it needs to be real. There are characters that are being operated by somebody and then there are those actors in full costume, keeping it real and organic on the set. Has there been much collaboration on this fi lm? I think on any film set, but particularly on this one, there is an extraordinary feeling of collaboration. You have so many different departments, whether its props, makeup, costume, wardrobe, green, set dressers, electricians, lighting, camera, sound or acting. J.J. has created the most collaborative experience. I think everybody feels the ability to walk up and say, can we try that? Obviously you can’t waste the director’s entire day, but he’s created an atmosphere where anybody can offer something.
Why will this film be so special?
Star Wars has come to be as much a part of our culture as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The original audience in 1977 created itself. People drifted in to see this movie, and then they ran out and told their friends. It was self-generating. They built a fan base for people who just got this story, and it took them away on a fantasy. It took them to a fantasy world that was real. People believed so strongly that it continued to the next generation and the next. Quite genuinely, J.J. has taken on this world that fans own a piece of now. They don’t like it if you mess about with it too much. They’ve taken ownership of this. You have a team of people who were there at the beginning who want it like it was, and who will make it like it was. We’re back, and it doesn’t stop there.