Anthony ‘C-3PO’ Daniels says the one thing he likes and shares with his golden alter-ego is a sense of loyalty
He says the first words in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). As C-3PO, the golden robot that bears more than a passing resemblance to Marvin the paranoid android from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, he tells the droid R2-D2, “Did you hear that? They have switched off the main reactor! We will be destroyed for sure…” From then Anthony Daniels has appeared as C-3PO in all Star Wars movies, spin-offs, radio and television shows and video games including LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special premiering on Disney+Hotstar on November 17.
The first Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978 was beyond weird— seriously what were they smoking? This one follows up on the fractious The Rise of Skywalker, with Rey and friends preparing for Life Day. Bounding across space and time Rey learns more about the Force while meeting old and new friends and enemies. Apart from Daniels, other Star Wars alums include Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian).
Talking about the original holiday special in a video call from London, Daniels says, “It certainly gave people a talking point. Just to be with Carrie (Fisher), Mark (Hamill) and Harrison (Ford) was always a pleasure. It the last few moments of the film, you can almost see the human characters and C-3PO kind of nudging closer to each other like we were on a lifeboat trying to survive this wreck as the wookies trampled over the scenery.”
Insisting C-3PO is iconic, Daniels says, “On set, I would regularly say, ‘Move out to the way, icon coming through.’ C-3PO will out-survive me, all of us. Now with electronic media, these images exist forever, and I am very proud about that because I respect him a great deal.”
Disney+’s web series, The Mandalorian has won many fans, The Child’s, diet choices notwithstanding. On whether C-3PO would be on the show, Daniels says, “I would love to see C-3PO in The Mandalorian and I hope you will be talking to the producers on my behalf!”
Talking of the reactions to sequel trilogy, Daniels says, “There are elements that certainly are debatable. The thing about Star Wars is it has always been chock-full of things to think about, concepts, ideas, views, morals, if you will. I would say, ‘have an opinion. I like this. I’m not sure about that.’ But be nice about it.”
Having played a character for over 40 years, what characteristics does Daniels share with the golden robot? “I think he would be tidier than I am. One thing I really do like that I share with him is his sense of loyalty. One of the lovely things in the movies is that Threepio shows great loyalty even to dreadful human beings and also to the princess, to Luke and of course, R2-D2.”
Being true to the character is crucial for Daniels. “C-3PO is important in the minds of many people because he is the first voice in that first film. He has a kind of quality that stayed with people and therefore, you have to stay with that quality, whatever the new iteration is. I can do that, without being crazily controlling. I can say, ‘That is not how he would put things,’ or ‘That is not how he would behave in character,’ because it is important he stays in character. And sensible and clever and intelligent producers and writers and directors listen to me.”
With Lego being part of the new holiday special, Daniels says, there is a lightness to the proceedings. “People can get a bit pompous with the Force, the Dark Side and who did what to whom or whatever. I love the irreverence that Lego has always brought, whatever the product, because you can’t be serious if you are a dumpy, inch-and-a half doll. So intrinsically, a Lego product is going to be fun, and it is going to allow you to places you wouldn’t normally go in a Star Wars movie.”
The 74-year-old British actor says the holiday special is a great introduction. “For anybody with small children who don’t yet know that Star Wars is a very important film concerning the adventures of a gold robot played by Anthony Daniels.”
Describing the holiday special as the latest and not the last iteration, Daniels says, “There are other things coming up, not major movies, but stay tuned. Threepio is too important a character to disappear and I don’t believe fans will allow him to disappear.”
The timing of the film, Daniels says is just right. “The original film was called A New Hope and these days, we need to feel there is hope, lightness, fun, and joy in life. We need to be reminded that there are good things in life. It is difficult right now for many people in all sorts of different circumstances.”
Daniels says the only difference between being on set and doing a voiceover is not wearing the suit. “I am there in jeans and a shirt. I stand as him, with a tight stomach and very tense because he is a tense character. I remain as physically as Threepio. In animation you tend to only have your lines, so always you have to read what, or ask what, the line before was. That is second nature to me because in the original film when I talked to R2-D2, he never beeped or anything until six months later and I went crazy talking to myself.”
Though Daniels tried recording at home with a tent around the screen and a microphone, it proved very uncomfortable. “I now walk out to a studio. I’m buzzed in. I don’t have to speak to anybody. They tell me the number of the room I’m going into. And there I am alone with a microphone that has been sanitized. The engineer is behind at least two sheets of glass. So he is safe from me. I am safe from him. And the producer director is normally on a screen in front of me, often from Los Angeles. I come out. I press the door-release button with my elbow. I put on my mask. I walk into the street. I come home. I take off my mask. So everything is safe. And please, everybody who is listening, I have made a career out of wearing a mask I want you to save your life by wearing a mask and maybe save the lives of others by wearing a mask. C-3PO wears a mask. You wear a mask.”
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special premieres on November 17 on Disney+Hotstar