Back during the days of the original Star Wars Trilogy, George Lucas would tell tales of his vision for all nine (or six, or twelve, depending on when the interview happened) movies, but he was clear the glue that would hold them all together would be R2-D2 and Anthony Daniels’ C-3PO, as the only characters who would appear in all of them.
The droids were such an integral part of the Original Trilogy, but by the time we got to the Prequels, they almost felt ham-handedly thrown into them. Then by the time we got to these new movies, the first two movies didn’t seem to know what to do with them at all, relegating them to almost glorified cameos. (Though, Daniels does get the biggest laugh of The Force Awakens during his reunion with Harrison Ford’s Han Solo.)
But in The Rise of Skywalker, C-3PO plays a major role, and as we’ve seen in the trailer, this includes a dramatic scene where he wants to take one last look at his friends. Ahead, Anthony Daniels, the only actor to appear in every Star Wars movie, tells us all about the rise of C-3PO in this final (at least for now) film.
Anthony Daniels: Hello, Mike.
Hello. How are you?
I’m doing a lot of interviews.
And I’m sure you’re getting a lot of people like me saying you’ve been part of my life as long as I can remember.
I’ve been talking exactly about that today, even with J.J. Abrams. I said, “Do you realize, J.J., you’ve been watching me for most your life?” I think he was 10 when he saw the movie. So for all these years, he has known me. It’s quite weird. Quite weird.
You literally taught me not to smoke.
Ah. Do you know how good that makes me feel? Because I had done a spot for the Health Department, or whatever. And I asked them if they’d make an anti-smoking spot, because my father smoked.
Mine did, too.
Ugh. Anyway, it was a long shot, but they said if I wrote it, they would do it. And I wrote it, and we did it. And I am very, very, very pleased to hear that it worked.
I honestly have never smoked a cigarette in my life.
Really? I think that’s brilliant.
When I was speaking to J.J. Abrams, he mentioned what a large role you have in The Rise of Skywalker. When did you find out?
I found out a few days before. I got so mad! I kept saying, “When can I have a script?” And I heard, “J.J. wants you to have the best, the most recent one.” And we had a whole cast dinner, get-together, where everybody got scripts except me, and I thought, hmmmm. And then, of course, it arrived. And I was really happy. Really happy.
Were you, maybe disappointed isn’t the right word, but wondering during The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi when C-3PO would get his moment?
Very much so. Yeah. In VII, J.J. was trying to restart the whole thing. And so, these films are not about C-3PO. And it was quite natural to want a larger role or a more responsible role, but there was other stuff to do. And then in the same way, number VIII was always a bit of like, “I’m standing around here.” So to end up with IX and really get some meat on the bones, it was worth waiting for, yeah. And that was Chris Terrio and J.J.
So that scene that they keep showing in all the trailers…
“I’m just taking one last look at my friends.” I’m under the impression it’s a very dramatic moment. What was that like for you to do that?
Yeah, it was genuinely moving on the set. And I was surprised when I saw the trailer that J.J. had kept that same quality in the cut. It’s exactly as I set the timing, and he’s got it in the shot there. But we kept the timing, and it is a very moving little moment, because I don’t think of C-3PO as me, I see him as a completely different person. So I was moved by his speech, if you will. Yeah, surprising!
He said that your role was so big, there were days you started “bemoaning,” his word.
He said he had to tell you, “Man, you wanted this.”
He does that. Oh yeah. It was a ton of work, but I think you’ll see how much it’s worth it. He is just the most delightful, creative, loving, supportive, fun, enthusiastic, brilliant director you could have. [Laughs] You can tell I want to work again. No, it’s just wonderful to know him and to be sharing his project. Oh, and always remembering that it was George Lucas who started it all. And J.J., boy, has he picked up the reins. And the responsibility he has every day. And keeping the atmosphere on the set so lovely, lively, and kind of enthusiastic. Really good.
He also added, “I don’t think he’s ever been better.”
Well, that is very nice to hear. To have that secondhand is really nice. He’s a very inspiring director. Even if he does do 14 takes.
With the marketing, one of the first images we see of you with a Wookiee bowcaster, so that’s new…
That is true. That really shocked people, yeah. C-3PO with a weapon and so on, yeah. We’ll have to find out what that means!
So at the 1978 Oscars, were you actually in the C-3PO suit when Mark Hamill was on stage?
Totally. I write about it in the book.
I have not had the chance to read it yet. I do plan on it.
I can’t remember what the chapter is called, is it Award or Fame? Oh no, it’s called Identity I think. Anyway, it’s there. I won’t spoil it. Yeah, that was me. That was a fairly scary evening, as you will read.
Bob Hope is there.
Yeah, well you should read the book. Read that chapter. Because it’s all true. It was quite an evening. So that’s me there in a black bow tie and all that kind of thing. But it gets worse, that’s what you saw on stage. And yes, Bob Hope, I shook his hand. Yeah, I don’t think he was entirely happy, but there we go. It was quite an iconic moment, but then read more, because I meet somebody else backstage who’s even more dramatic and funny, I think. The book is a sort of compilation of random thoughts around the movie, because obviously it’s taken over a good chunk of 40 years of my life. And because it’s been part of so many people’s lives, they just get a different perspective on it. I’ve also been able to write about Episode IX in a roundabout way without spoiling, so we are going to see it tonight. You’re going to see it in a couple of weeks, I suppose.
Oh, you’re seeing it tonight?
J.J. is giving the cast a little screening.
Will there be an amendment to your book after IX comes out, where you can tell more stories?
That’s very interesting, because I did actually continue to write on the set. I mean, literally, we were shooting the film, I was writing things down. Can I go through all that publishing process again? I’m not sure.
We’ll see. If there’s a demand for it, maybe I will.
We are out of time. Anyway, thank you again for tip about not smoking.
That’s great. Thanks so much.
‘Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker’ opens December 20th. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.