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Anthony Daniels next to his Star Wars counterpart, C-3PO.
I Am C-3POAnthony Daniels, published byPenguin Random House
As the Skywalker saga gets set to conclude this December, it also brings to a close – probably, more or less, never say never – the work of Anthony Daniels in the role of the droid C-3PO. The English actor, now 73, first met George Lucas on Nov. 14, 1975, to audition for a part in what was then called The Star Wars. Lucas hired him a few days later, but almost refused to use Daniels’ voice in the film. Imagine if he’d gone instead with Richard Dreyfuss, one of his possible choices until he finally decided to let Daniels’ fusty-British-butler delivery stand.
Now the actor has penned a memoir, I Am C-3PO, full of anecdotes from more than 40 years as the droid, and featuring a foreword by director J.J. Abrams, who was just 10 when he first saw Daniels on the screen in the original Star Wars. Here are five things we learned from the book.
1. He’s been in every Star Wars movie.
Daniels has played 3PO in all nine chapters of the Skywalker saga; he even has the first line in the original movie, and the last in the third prequel. And he and R2-D2 have a cameo in Rogue One, which takes place between chapters 3 and 4.
But Daniels also has a small part in Solo: A Star Wars Story, not as a droid but a humanoid named Tak. Even better for fans of the series, Tak has been sent to the Spice Mines of Kessel, a fate fretted about by C-3PO in an early scene from the first film.
2. Like his character, he’s well versed in etiquette and protocol.
Daniels makes no secret of the “industrial, rather threatening atmosphere” of the prequels; his dislike of Richard Marquand, director of Return of the Jedi, whom he describes as a bully; or his rocky relationship with Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2. But neither does he go on about it. Of Baker’s personal attacks he writes: “For the most part, I refrained from commenting, and will resist the temptation to do so here.”
Indicative of his discretion is his recollection of meeting co-directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord on the set of Solo. “Chris and Phil had left the production the next day over artistic differences,” he writes simply. “None of my business.”
3. He crossed paths with Stanley Kubrick.
Daniels was no fan of science-fiction in his youth, and once walked out of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, though not before meeting 3PO’s cinematic predecessor, HAL 9000. But when he arrived at Britain’s Elstree Studios to have a body cast made to help design his costume, he discovered that the sculptor, Liz Moore, had also created the Star Child prop from the end of 2001. He would later watch and appreciate the entire film.
Later, while filming The Empire Strikes Back, he wandered into an adjacent soundstage and the hedge maze from Kubrick’s The Shining, accidentally leaving his footprints in the fake snow, and then creeping out backwards to limit the damage – not unlike what a character does in that movie. “I wondered if Mr. Kubrick had got the idea from seeing my footwork,” he writes. “Probably not.”
4. He’s thought a lot about the minutiae of the movies.
Daniels is foremost an actor, but also a font of Star Wars knowledge who can go toe to toe with detail-obsessed fans. “What is the thing with doors and Star Wars?” he writes at one point. “Some go up, some down, other sideways. On occasion, they move in a four-piece scissor attack. But I think that, in all those miles of film, there is not one single, simple door that opens inward or outward merely at the turn of a knob.”
5. He wasn’t always saying when you thought he was saying.
Daniels recorded all of 3PO’s lines in ADR, or automated dialogue replacement, during post-production. That meant he could technically say anything on the day of filming, since the droid’s mouth doesn’t even move. His line “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” in Return of the Jedi wasn’t spoken on the day; he noticed a bit of silence in ADR and asked if he could squeeze in the extra words.
In Episode II, with his head briefly welded to the body of a battle droid, 3PO brandishes a laser rifle and shouts “Die, Jedi dogs! Die!” But while filming the scene, Daniels says he couldn’t resist making “Tchewww Tchewww” noises for the rifle, and “substituting ‘Jedi dogs’ with another two-word expression.” Etiquette prevents him from spelling it out, but use your imagination.
I Am C-3PO by Anthony Daniels (272 pp, $31.99) is published by DK.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019