Inquiring Minds

More of Rocks Off's Interview With C-3PO Himself, Anthony Daniels

[Note: Read Part 1 of the interview here.]

RO: What is your favorite John Williams movement from the soundtracks?

AD: Curiously, it's one from The Phantom Menace, and I know some will be surprised by that. There's a wonderful Egyptian-type march before one of Anakin's pod races. It's got a great Egyptian, eastern and slightly discordant, very much written in their notation and scale. It's very exciting with lots of brass. Oh, and of course the piece with Darth Maul, the guy with the red horns. His is such an exciting and violently threatening piece. But thinking back, there's actually nothing I don't like.

RO: What has been your most rewarding interaction with fans over the past 32 years?

AD: When a parent comes up with a child, and says "Can you do the voice?" The kids don't believe you are C-3PO, then I go (drops into the signature voice) "Hello, I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations!" You see the kid digest the sounds, and you see the smile recognition. That in its simplest way is hugely rewarding. Even though I am not always in costume, there are elements in my performance and the script that make it very clear who I have been for thirty-something years.

RO: What has been the strangest interaction you have ever had?

AD: Strange? I don't know. The films are so strange in themselves, what with the way people are dressed up in all sorts of ways. What's bizarre has been when I have been somewhere where I am the guest of honor, and I didn't have a ticket because I'm the guest of honor. The security people won't let me in!

In fact in 1978 I was a part of the Oscars presentation, and eventually when I took off the gold suit and put on my tux on, they tried to arrest me and would not believe who I was. I was panicking, because I had to fly out the next day and I was jet-lagged and didn't deal with it very well. My security guard found me and rescued me. Back then a lot of people thought that robot was real!

But last week I was in Paris in a tiny bar off a backstreet having a glass of wine with friends and three people came up to me and said "Monsieur Daniels?" I do get recognized everywhere now, so I'm ready for it.

RO: Between you and Peter Mayhew and others, both of you are in a sort of fraternity, both being there from the beginning. To us, C-3PO was always a much bigger part of the Star Wars universe. Your character was right there from the start of the saga.

AD: That's absolutely true, and it has nothing to do with me. I have noticed that. One of the reasons is because C-3PO is so iconic. I think Luke suffers from being the "blond hero" but the hairstyle faded and the other characters around him became much more interesting and weird.

I always told Mark Hamill not to act around me in a scene because all I would have to do is move my shoulders a bit or turn my head and totally steal the eye line from the audience. We used to laugh about that. I believe Mark had a really tough job in having to act against a backdrop of robots, Wookies, and giant slugs. But he did a very good job.

RO: What are you working with George now aside from the concert series as far as Star Wars goes?

AD: At the moment we are about to start a new series of animated Clone Wars episodes. It's hugely popular, because the animation is so good and attractive. I like it because I don't have to dress up. I just walk down there casually and do the voice. There's nothing casual C-3PO's voice though, and he's a very tense character. He tends to create a vocal restriction.

RO: Does a day go by that someone doesn't throw a Star Wars reference at you?

AD: Well, I live in the outback of France and tend a very large garden. If you asked me what my greatest achievement was, last year I built a huge two cubic meter compost bin back there. The ground is horrible, but I constructed two huge wooden boxes and I feel really good about it!

I did it and I'm actually quite handy around the house. I feel good about making beautiful compost out of rubbish. It's weird the little things that gives you pleasure, like amusing a child with the voice. But that's my private life and I don't talk about that much.

I have noticed wherever I go in the world, and it doesn't matter whether it's Japan or the East, there will be a reference in photograph, sound, or music to Star Wars. I think it is only in the outback of France where it doesn't happen. Although my plumber found out what I do for a job, we begged him not to tell anybody, and so he got a photograph with me.

RO: Your character ties the films together so well...

AD: That was George's original idea I think, to make C-3PO the common man, the thread. It fit rather nicely. In fact on each occasion when I have made my first appearance on the set I was always did it in costume. George would say very stately, "Star Wars has arrived."

What's funny about these concerts is that in Return Of The Jedi, C-3PO says "I'm not very good at telling stories" and then he tells all these Ewoks stories. Now he's coming to a huge arena in Houston to tell the second greatest story of all time. There's a kind of irony there. As you know, I didn't want to be in the films in the first place, and now I'm the only one who has worked on all six films.

Star Wars In Concert comes to Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 6 p.m. Sunday, October 25. Memorabilia exhibit opens at 4:30 p.m. For tickets call 866-446-8849 or see
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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty