featured I am C-3PO

The Golden Touch: Anthony Daniels Talks ‘I am C-3PO - The Inside Story’

November 15, 2019Ben MK

From A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker, Anthony Daniels has been a part of the Star Wars saga since the very beginning. As C-3PO, not only has he played one of the franchise's most beloved characters, he's also one of its most recognizable stars. And in his new book, "I am C-3PO - The Inside Story," the 73-year-old actor is taking readers on a journey spanning over 40 years and 11 films — not to mention everything in between.

I sat down with Anthony Daniels to chat about his Star Wars legacy and which of the franchise's films and characters hold a special place in his heart, as well as to find out what the fans mean to him.

In your book, you talk about being drawn to Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for C-3PO and how your love for the character kept you coming back to the role. What was it exactly that drew you to Threepio and why do you think the character has endured for so many years?

Daniels: There's a little picture of Ralph McQuarrie's painting in the book, but there was a kind of innocent vulnerability in the face that he'd drawn — a kind of questioning. It is that innocent vulnerability. [Threepio] has no guile, he has no sense of humor, everything's terrible. And he manifests a lot of the feelings that grown-ups try and keep hidden. They learn to put on this shell of self-protection. He has no ability to do that. He's completely overt, like a child. He just blurts [things] out. And we find that quite endearing. It allows us to care for him.

You spend the first 100 or so pages of the book talking about the making of A New Hope. Not considering the pain and suffering that came along with wearing the costume (especially in those early days), was that your favorite Star Wars film?

Daniels: Funnily enough, it was. I think A New Hope was such an amazingly impactful experience in so many ways that it's easy to remember it really quite clearly. As time went on, the impact became less, because I knew what the circumstances were. But it is my favorite film to watch, because there's an innocent simplicity about it.

On a similar note, you mention in the book that Darth Maul is your favorite prequel character. Why is that? And what are your favorite characters from the original trilogy and the new trilogy?

Daniels: Darth Maul's played by Ray Park, who's a great guy. But Trisha Biggar's costume for him — that multi-pleated, handmade skirt that gives Ray such movement — and the makeup is extraordinary. It's a combination [of those], and then Ray's skill. But also, [Darth Maul's] absolutely pure evil. For once you know exactly who and what he is. He's just mean, [whereas] all the other characters have a slight questioning about them.

In the old trilogy, I think probably Han Solo [is my favorite]. Harrison [Ford] brought such a spark of his own to that, his attitude — [he] really zest it up. The most difficult part there [was] Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, playing the innocent, wide-eyed kid. He was our hero. But really, so was Han.

And in the new trilogy, you haven't seen half of what Daisy Ridley does [as Rey]. In [The Rise of Skywalker], she was for real — outside, in November, wearing practically nothing, being smashed by waves for a week. while everybody's dressed in rainwear and parkas. She's given a huge amount; and then she does the subtle stuff [with] her beautiful eyes, all that sort of thing. Oscar Isaac as Poe is also one of my joys in this film. Because Threepio has a bad attitude, and that's always good for playing off. Threepio needs a foil.

Being the only actor to have appeared in all 11 Star Wars films (including Rogue One and Solo), you've, of course, played off of many of these characters. Which character do you feel had the most surprising chemistry with Threepio?

Daniels: We have him as a given, if you like, with R2-D2 at the beginning. And I was a little shocked that Artoo went off on his own [in The Empire Strikes Back]. But then they gave me Harrison — Han Solo — who absolutely had attitude. And now we come up with BB-8, who's adorable. The magic of the imagination that's gone into these droids is pretty good.

Because Threepio is a machine. So he's not gonna stop being a machine. He's not gonna stop being a dishwasher. But you can put him next to, I dunno, a microwave and he becomes different. A new comedy act.

Late in the book you give a very touching tribute to Carrie Fisher. And in the section about Rogue One, you mentioned how you weren't that thrilled about the young version of Carrie Fisher created for that film. How do you feel about the current Hollywood trend of de-aging living actors and even using CGI to bring back actors who have passed away (like the recent news about plans for a new film starring the likeness of James Dean?)

Daniels: It really is a difficult question, because I suppose it's fantasy. Actually, I think it's ok. If entertainers want to use any medium — providing it entertains, providing it tells a good story, providing it doesn't belittle, if you like, James Dean. Providing it doesn't have him doing things he would not have done as a human. Providing it respects his memory.

What an epitaph! How brilliant that people care enough to want to resurrect not only somebody who's died a long time ago, but somebody who gave so much in their life that we want more of it, we don't want to let it go. That's ok. But don't mess with it. Be respectful. It bothers me sometimes when you have people who've gone who are advertising Coke or coffee granules. That I mind. That is kind of disrespectful.

Speaking of legacies, your book feels like such a complete account of your own Star Wars legacy, but were there any bits that you had to leave out?

Daniels: Nothing occurs. In fact, I should start writing down things that I am suddenly remembering. I did want to write in a lean way, and in a way that keeps the reader involved. I don't lay everything out in a linear way. I wanted you to think, "What is he talking about? What is the subject? Oh, I see, yeah." That way, there's a kind of narrative that has an ending that you don't quite see. And, on occasion, the odd cliffhanger.

Last but not least — in the book, you fondly remember working with Sir Alec Guinness but you mentioned how he somewhat resented that his body of work was overshadowed by his role as Obi-Wan. You, on the other hand, have embraced Threepio, and I get the impression that that's due in part to how the fans have also embraced the character. With that in mind, what do you want Star Wars fans to take away from this book?

Daniels: I realize in the end how much I've talked about the fans. And it wasn't deliberately, it was just that they keep being there, don't they? So I guess, thank you for being there. Without the fans, there wouldn't have been any Star Wars.

I am C-3PO: The Inside Story is now available in book stores everywhere.

You May Also Like