However Saturday October 10th went for you I can pretty much guarantee that it was better for me. I got to brave the ridiculous crowds at New York Comic Con and spend time with an icon I have admired since I was a youngling.
Billy Donnelly (He’s the guy who owns this joint and for some reason lets me write stuff here) had called me earlier in the week and asked if I wanted to talk to Anthony Daniels.
I advised that it was on my bucket list somewhere between driving the 66 Batmobile and patching things up between me and Megan Fox. Billy asked me to stop broadcasting my Megan Fox “issue” and told me to make my way to Mr. Daniels’ table when I got to the convention to see if he could make some time to chat with me.
After I had already spent 40 minutes getting bumped and jostled through the vast sea of geektastic humanity trying to make my way to the autograph section in the basement of the convention center it occurred to me that Billy may have been setting me up. I mean it would have been the perfect prank – tell the biggest STAR WARS fan on staff that he was going to get to talk to the man behind (actually inside) C3PO – then when it was all exposed to be a ruse – laugh and watch the big tough geek cry.
I was sure that when I got to Mr. Daniels’ table and explained why I was there he was going to stare at me blankly and request that security drag me away. It took another 20 minutes to get through the crowd, but when I finally got to the table and spoke to Mr. Daniels, it turned out it wasn’t a joke at all.
He asked me to return at a specific time and when I did we slipped out the back door of the facility and were suddenly on a big empty loading dock. Just me and Anthony Daniels.
This whole “writing stuff on the internet” thing is a pretty sweet gig.
Brian – I think it’s amazing that you have been C-3PO now for…
Anthony – I think it’s 38 years. I met George (Lucas) in 1975. I had been acting for a couple of years having spent the previous three years at drama school and I’d not been in a film. I’d only done television and radio where I started off and stage. It was whilst I was on stage a few blocks away from his office; I actually couldn’t be bothered to go into his office because I didn’t want to be in a low budget Sci Fi movie.
B – (Laughs) Really? That’s very funny –
A – Anybody whose read my biographical stuff knows it’s absolutely true I thought that acting was about Shakespeare and all that sort of thing and Sci Fi didn’t interest me. My agent made me go and meet him and still I wasn’t interested. It was Ralph McQuarrie’s painting of C-3P0 and R2 on the planet that absolutely changed my mind. The character just interested me so much – the way Ralph had done it – in fact today somebody for the first time has brought me a new figure – a bust that you can have of 3PO in Ralph McQuarrie’s original drawing. It was quite a heavy metal little thing and it really took me back.
B – I had thought Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine was the most times an actor has played the same role but it’s not – it’s you – You’ve been C-3P0 in all six STAR WARS movies and DROIDS and CLONE WARS and THE MUPPET SHOW…
A – Ahh yes The MUPPET SHOW was one of my high points really; the low point of course was the Holiday Special.
B – [Laughs]
A – I found the script the other day, its about four inches, five inches thick and black and silver and I just began to read through it [Laughs] – it was such rubbish – it was so bad . . .
B – What was the feeling on the set when you guys were making it – did you know it was that bad?
A – The Holiday special?
B – Yeah
A- Oh yes – it was crap, I sort of remember – I remember the Wookiees coming in for a scene holding their – it said in the script – holding their “glowing globes” which was just like . . . something weird. And I seem to remember they put some black velvet on the floor and they had little Pea lights , like Christmas lights, in the floor to make it look like stars, and I think some of the Wookiees kind of “trod” some of the stars out… It was just so embarrassing. There was Carrie singing Accapella, because there was no – I think she had an earpiece but it sounded very frail, now I can’t sing at all so I’m not going to say . . . uh but when I got in my car at the end of the shoot – the Limo driver turned right away and “Why are ya laughing?” and I said [laughing] “Because I’m not on that shoot anymore! I’m finished!” Yeah, We knew it was rubbish.
B – Now George had nothing to do with that, right?
A – It was the last time George did not have anything to do with a thing – he was so shocked with the results, I mean it is one of those things…
B – You have to see it once…
A – Yeah – you can’t watch it all the way through. There are a number of things that didn’t work terribly well, people think that Episode One you know …. was….
B – What did you think of EPISODE I while you were making it?
A – [Long thoughtful pause] Umm… Pass.
B – Okay… all right… but by the time EPISODE III came it definitely felt like it was more…
A – Yeah at the end of EPISODE III it became you know, a bit like the old days.
B – Was it a much different feeling on the sets than when you made the first three?
A – Well yes, digital is not that much fun to work with, there’s very little inspiration, the thing with a real set is it inspires you to think of things to add, blue used to be my favorite color but I’m not sure anymore… Yeah it was odd and the story was a bit… well I’m old so I like the originals. But it does complete the story and my views don’t matter.
B – Well actually the story is not complete, right? Cause they are going to make three more . . .
A – Apparently. So they tell me.
B- Are you going to be involved with them?
A- They tell me there’s three more movies.
B- Of course C-3PO will be in them, right? They must have told you…
A – I don’t know whether 3PO is… I’ve slightly lost track of where he was last… you see I think the real truth is that he was last seen dancing with a bunch of Ewoks and I think after that, from what I gather, he went off to join the Circus with a bunch of Ewoks that go through the woods and fire eating and all that kind of thing so I think he’s likely left the film industry. I don’t know. And he may have had his mind wiped again – certainly I seem to have an automatic mind wipe these days.
B – On a related note; what are your feelings about those iconic characters possibly being recast? I know there has been talk of Peter Mayhew possibly being replaced…
A – Nobody is irreplaceable in this life. In any field whatsoever. Remember that I have worked with a new Obi-Wan and various types of Yoda in the past. I’ve met the young Anakin and the older Anakin, it’s all in the name.
B – You’ve met like five different Anakins, right?
A – I probably have – I slightly lose track actually. [Laughs] I’m not too good on the details. You know it’s like in the last movie, the reason I’m the only person to be in all of them is that you know, people have died or were digitized. It’s the film industry.
B- If you never played C-3PO, what do you think you would have done?
A – Well. It’s a pointless question. (BRIAN’S NOTE: IT WAS A POINTLESS QUESTION. I AGREE. SADLY THE 7 YEAR OLD STAR WARS FAN WHO LIVES IN ME HANDLED MOST OF THE CRITICAL THINKING ON THIS INTERVIEW. LOL)
B – True. Very true. But it’s my question. (BRIAN’S NOTE again: APPARENTLY THE 7 YEAR OLD IN ME IS OBSTINATE.)
A – Well, I probably wouldn’t be in the acting industry because it’s very tough for most actors to get work and I’m not… you know I don’t get mistaken for Harrison Ford at all, or Orlando Bloom who of course got the part as Legolas in Films whereas I did it in the cartoon (Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 adaption); I was obviously very hurt. I still can’t understand what the difference between me and Orlando Bloom is… why do they choose him…
B – [laughing] Do you like those movies? Is that a role you would have liked to have had?
A – Uhhh… I’m not a fan of LORD OF THE RINGS and I’m sure I just insulted you know, half the galaxy, but they’re not my kind of thing or I’m not so much into that kind of fantasy.
B – How is Comic Con going for you this weekend?
A- There is a wrestler who keeps making the crowd shout and that’s really, really incredibly irritating. (BRIAN’S NOTE: It was Hulk Hogan and Anthony was right – it WAS irritating. 200 thousand people make enough noise without encouragement.) Apart from that I’m meeting so many people who say “Thank you for my childhood”
B – And I’m one of them.
A – Yeah, and you know I never expected that to happen so it’s a real pleasure to hear it because making these movies frankly isn’t all that much fun. I might as well be honest about it. They’ve been a bit of a burden and so the fact that people like it, that’s where the joy comes from actually and when I leave here. Actually at my desk I have the script for THE HITCHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY because I’m going to do some shows of that on stage in England next month so I’m learning to get my face around some “Ravenous Bug Batter Beast of Traal”.
B – What role will you be playing?
A – I am the Book.
B – Is that going to be in New York or in London? (BRIAN’S NOTE: YES I KNOW HE SAID ENGLAND ALREADY. CUT ME SOME SLACK. I WAS TALKING TO C-3PO FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! )
A – No, it’s in England – it’s on tour I can only do three dates so I think I may do more later on. It’s quite a mouth-full. And of course it has Marvin the paranoid android in it which I always thought 3P0 was slightly to do with his nascence, the inspiration to Douglas Adams may have been C-3PO who is frankly neurotic himself.
B – Absolutely.
A – So thats fun – I don’t do many conventions, just occasionally. You know it’s hard work.
B – I was watching you for a while, it’s very difficult to stand in one place and smile for three hours. Even if you’re in a good mood.
A – Absolutely and people are shouting and yelling and dropping things – but occasionally it’s very nice and we’re currently negotiating to do STAR WARS IN CONCERT again on tour next year which is the best job I ever had. absolutely the best job and the first time that I understood the STAR WARS story because I tell it very simply from beginning to end from EPISODE I to EPISODE VI and to be on stage with always a wonderful orchestra and John’s music, it’s so loud occasionally… there’s a big box of ear plugs in the wings and various screw top plexiglass screens behind them to block the noise; but to be there with the music and the lasers and the wonderful writing and the live audience who are all STAR WARS and music fans who love John William’s symphonic music, the specially edited film sequences that are not linear, they tell a theme , whether it’s the Princess or the Dark Side or the droids or battles or whatever… each one is on a subject and it really helped me understand what a really unusually clever thing George came up with. I’ve never really given it the respect it deserved. And also I pick up on the love and affection that comes from the audience live. You can actually feel it. It’s almost tangible. So you know, with thousands of people every night I actually can’t wait to do it again.
B – That’s fantastic.
A – And me in a nice black lounge suit. If you’ve seen it you know that 3PO sort of pops out of me occasionally and why not?
B – And you don’t have to spend two hours getting into costume.
A – Exactly that! And on this trip, here I’m about to leave, I’ve been working again on THE YODA CHRONICLES which is Richard Price’s wonderful cartoon series for the Cartoon Network which is a set we just laugh so much, because the great thing about STAR WARS is it’s become something you can poke fun at with great affection. You can sort of “tease” it.
B – I can’t think of another property that has that that same effect.
A – No, you know LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER, The BOND movies, they’re all terrific but STAR WARS is unique.
B – Absolutely. When people are making fun of THEM (the other properties) they are genuinely MAKING FUN of them – they lack the reverence, that this has.
A – There is the reverence, and then you can have fun.
B – It lends itself to it.
A – And of course, i do feel lucky to be C-3PO because he’s a really nice character. Were he not I don’t think I would have stuck with it through the years. I think I would have liked to have been Darth Maul.
B – [Laughs]
A – But I wasn’t qualified. Because he’s so evil . . . he’s my favorite character actually.
B – He’s mine too actually! His design looks amazing. (BRIAN’S NOTE: GREAT INTERVIEW TECHNIQUE HERE EH? TELL THE GUY WHO PLAYED C-3PO THAT DARTH MAUL IS YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER. SIGH.)
A – Can you imagine chopping him in half? I don’t know . . .
B – I couldn’t believe they did ! I remember being in the theater and going “Huh?!? Did they really cut him in half? Why? He was so cool!!”
A- Yeah. So you know 3PO has been a fond traveling companion for many many years – 38 years now and who knows where it will lead…
B- Thank you very much for your time today – I greatly appreciate it.
It was true… I really did!
Now to track down that Batmobile . . .