A Polite Chat with Anthony Daniels, the Voice of Star Wars' C-3PO, who Comes to St. Louis Thursday for Star Wars In Concert

Anthony Daniels -- that's An-TON-ee -- is not the nervous, bumbling droid C-3PO he played in six Star Wars movies. In fact, although he's not quite sure where the personality for the protocol droid came from, he doesn't shy away from his biggest role, despite the fact that he was behind a mask for all of the films. After years of marching up the hill for Star Wars in embarrassing holiday specials, Christmas albums and a litany of promotional appearances, the England-born stage actor is getting his just desserts with a classy tribute to the music of Star Wars -- as the show's emcee. (Which means he'll be in a tux, not wearing a droid costume.)

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When Daniels arrives in St. Louis for tomorrow's show at the Scottrade Center -- which is dubbed Star Wars In Concert -- he'll be with an 86-piece orchestra. (Besides being a musical Cliffs Notes on the six-film saga, Concert also showcases the scores of John Williams.) There will also be movie props -- including the C-3PO costume -- on display for fans before the show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range in price from $32.50 to $72.50 (More details here.)

Update: See photos from the concert here.

We talked with Daniels about the tour, and laid on the fanboy questions about the infamous Star Wars holiday special, him cutting apart the C-3PO costume on set and whether he has any of those Kellogg's C-3PO's cereal boxes stashed away.

(Download a podcast of this interview.)


You are in Chicago now. How was last night's show in Cleveland?
It was glorious as I think back. In Cleveland there, yes. Every night has been pretty spectacular for us. And I think for the audience, too, because we see them sort of leap to their feet with a wonderful 'standing o' at the end of the concert.

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You're wearing a tux, not your iconic costume, for this tour, correct?
Yes, my iconic costume is outside in the exhibition area of the arena before you go in. So get there early so you can enjoy the exhibit. The sheets of John Williams' scores and so on are on display. Everything  is real. Get there early, get in your seats early, so you can see the rather wonderful beginning of the concert.

When was the last time you donned the full costume?
About four or five months ago I think. Because we were remaking Star Wars Weekends for Disney. I'll be back in January in California still working on that. I'm happy not to be wearing it in the concert because I can talk to the audience and walk around.

It'd be interesting to be in front of all those people with that costume on.
I've done it and I don't need to do it again.

It doesn't look like a very comfortable costume. And you're known as one of the only Star Wars actors to cut up your costume during filming, right? Is that true?
I kept saying, "This doesn't work, this doesn't work." It was "ouch" every time, and I just got some metal snips and just opened it up. It was always the costumes. Only I knew which fits were really a problem. You can ask nicely a few times of [the crew] and finally just do it then.

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Star Wars is famous for its symphonic score, but when Star Was made, disco was huge. Would you ever host a tour for Meco's Star Wars and other Galactic Funk?
Star Wars in Concert is a reviewing of the whole Star Wars saga. So you get a complete different aspect of it from our concert. I was always certainly very happy with the Meco version, it made me laugh a lot. And I did Christmas in the Stars, a rather strange album, which sort of haunts me to this day and to this joyous moment.

Star Wars in Concert
is actually a serious concert. I'm more of a classical music interest myself. So it' s a treat every night to be there with John Williams' absolutely classical-based score. Whether it's there's the big, building marches like the Darth Vader theme or the Star Wars theme, or they are sort of twinkly -- we have a whole passage about Ewok battle scenes -- or the wonderful can-can type music. Or the wonderfully crazy and boppy cantina band. Or the beautiful Princess Leia scene. There's a whole range of musical genre within this and emotional tugs as well. So there's a whole feast actually for somebody who likes music in this concert.



With the holidays here, how do you look back on the Star Wars Holiday special?

I remember it very well because as my driver took me away from the studio, I started laughing and he said, "What are you laughing about?" And I said, "Because I'm no longer on that." I cannot remember the adjective that I said I as finished my work on the very strange experience.

Until you have seen a line of Wookies entering carrying their glowing globes, you ain't seen nothing. It remains one of the black sheep of the joy of Star Wars, but almost is becoming its own entity; the shock value, if they ever re-release it... I defy anybody to watch it from beginning to end.

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Do you have any unopened boxes of C-3PO's cereal around the house still?
I have one box, which is unopened. I always say that when the world really makes me angry, I will go up to a high place and open it and destroy the planet. But I do also have the art work box which is the one used [in] advertisements, because it is so beautiful. It's really a very rich picture on the front.

And those together with my little bits of the Millennium Falcon -- which sadly are the only bits that survived the bon fire that ultimately destroyed it --  they are in my kind of small little museum in an attic somewhere.

My fondness really at the moment, it's really amazing for me as I stand on the 27th floor of a hotel overlooking the lake in Chicago in the sunshine, is that after all my years of doing things with Star Wars, whether it's Kellogg's or Sesame Street, really Star Wars in Concert is absolute magic for me because it combines my old enjoyment of being  a stage actor, with of course the enormous thrill of being in all the Star Wars movies. Of course for somebody who didn't want to be in the first one, to end up on the 27th floor in Chicago, being the only person to work on all six Star Wars movies, still working with Clone Wars, is a very weird journey.

Star Wars is all about destiny and journey, and this has been mine.

C-3PO was original written as sleazy used-car salesman-type of character, but on-screen he was more nervous than anything else. What brought that to the character?
That was George's idea... he was always [sleazy] in the script, but it's how you interpret [the character]. That's the difference between actors. George never told me he wanted a sleazy guy. So I just looked at it. I had six months working with the script before we started filming because we were making the costumes, so I just interpreted it and George didn't have time to correct me. I'm afraid 3PO stayed the way he was. He is 3PO, he isn't me. He is this strange creation that came out of somewhere

As I look up through the clouds and to the sun, I'm wondering where did [C-3PO] come from? But I'm very glad he certainly did end up in my pocket.


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