Such is the secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens that we still don’t know anything about the characters that certain actors play. The cast list on the soon-to-be blockbuster’s IMDb page, for instance, includes Simon Pegg and Warwick Davis, but there are blank spots where their characters’ names ought to be. Is Davis reprising his Return of the Jedi role of Wicket? Do Ewoks even live that long?
There can be no such speculation about Anthony Daniels’s role. He is, and always has been, C-3PO, the fussy and flappable golden protocol droid who is equal parts Stan Laurel and Felix Unger. Mind you, exactly what Threepio does in The Force Awakens (which opens on Friday [December 18] ) is uncertain.
When the Georgia Straight calls Daniels, the first order of business is confessing that we haven’t seen the movie yet.
“Neither have I, actually,” the 69-year-old English actor admits over the phone from Toronto. Daniels has, however, watched his own bits and enough of the rest to make him keen on experiencing the whole thing.
“I really am excited to see this,” he says. “Everything I’ve seen of it so far has been really rather wonderful and very much going back to the old films, the style of George’s original trilogy.”
“George” is, of course, George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars mythos, beginning with the 1977 original. He sold his production company, Lucasfilm—and with it the entire space-opera franchise—to Disney in 2012 and was not involved with the making of The Force Awakens. J. J. Abrams directed this seventh episode of the saga, which was written by him with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt.
It’s the first Star Wars movie to be released in a decade, but that doesn’t mean Daniels has had any time off from playing Threepio. The droid has given him steady work in the interim, with the character appearing in everything from video games and The Lego Movie to small-screen series, including The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
“I have been incredibly lucky to have been the voice of C-3PO in all sorts of spinoffs—as you said, Clone Wars; hugely popular,” Daniels says. “Now we’ve got Rebels. We had [the 1985 Saturday-morning cartoon] Droids.
“My total bliss is anything to do with Lego. We’ve just done Droid Tales, and we did The Yoda Chronicles. We can poke affectionate fun at the whole thing. Everybody’s a Lego figure. When people said, about going on The Force Awakens, you know, ‘Was it strange to be back as Threepio?’, not at all, because most months of the year I am in a studio in London recording one of those cartoon things.”
In other words, playing this single character has become the actor’s career. Daniels acknowledges as much and does so without a trace of resentment. Star Wars, it seems, has been very, very good to him—even if hobbling around in a robot suit hasn’t always been fun.
“It’s a delightful career,” he says. “Because difficult though Threepio is to play physically and, to some extent, vocally—you know, a whole day’s recording is quite tiring as Threepio—the payoff is that I’m very, very fond of him. And I think he might be fond of me, but we’ll never know. Maybe one day we’ll do a split-screen thing.”
And with that, the Straight’s allotted time is up, but before Daniels moves on to his next interview, he switches to C-3PO’s prim cadence and signs off with six words that any fan of that galaxy far, far away would be delighted to hear: “May the Force be with you.”