I’m going to level with you—if you had asked me who my favorite Star Wars character was when I was six years old, I would have answered C-3PO. This was mostly because I remembered him best, and was a no-nonsense child who enjoyed characters that talked sense (even if they were afraid). And when I’m feeling sentimental, he’s still my favorite character in those films.
So when I tell you that he called me (and my lovely fiancée) up on stage to act out a scene from Star Wars… well, now you understand that it was sort of a big deal. To me.
If you’ve ever seen Anthony Daniels up close, or read the Star Wars Insider while they were running his “Wonder Column,” you know he is a very witty, very charming person. He’s what 3PO probably wishes he could be like, if only he weren’t programmed to be so damned polite. And because Daniels has been working rooms at conventions for decades now, he knows exactly how to handle a crowd of fans. He emceed a couple of the Star Wars Celebrations back when the prequels were coming out (I was lucky enough to be there for one of those too), and was famous for keeping everyone laughing all day long.
I wasn’t even supposed to be at the panel—he swapped his time and room with William Shatner—but was perfectly happy to be in line when they announced the change up. My fiancée told me to think up a question to ask him because of our costumes; I was in gold leggings, a 3PO bathing suit, and a black leather jacket, while she sported an R2-D2 dress and some fabulous blue eye makeup. But nothing was really coming to mind.
Of course, Daniels had other plans.
The opening of the panel was a riot, and everyone in the room was instantly grinning. After walking the aisles to ask questions (he does not sit at tables—he prefers to work around the room), he suddenly called out for an impression of Jar Jar Binks. He got a shockingly accurate one from the front row and, impressed or maybe frightened by the skill of the crowd, started asking for more. After one Wookiee mating call and a “do or do not, there is no try,” he asked for an R2 impression.
It so happens that Kelsey (that is the lovely fiancée’s name) had been practicing R2 whistles all morning, just case anyone asked. She whistled at him from across the room. His head shot up: “Who was that?”
I pointed to her.
And that’s when Anthony Daniels grabbed Kelsey by the wrist—“I think I’m in love”—and had her act out a few lines with him. She was, if I do say so myself, very good at the game and I thought, Well, this sort of makes the Con for me, doesn’t it?
He let her sit back down after a minute or so, but then came upon a teenaged fan in a homemade C-3PO dress that she had designed herself. Too good to pass up. So Kelsey was called back to act out their scene walking away from the escape pod in Episode IV, but just the droids weren’t enough. He asked the audience what else these scenes contained. “Extras!” someone shouted.
“Have you even watched the movie?” he teased. “Were there any extras in that scene?”
“The krayt dragon!” someone pointed out.
“Well, you can be the krayt dragon skeleton, then,” said Daniels. “What else?”
Just do it, I said to myself. You’ll never get another chance. “Soundtrack!”
He pointed to me. “You! Up here! Can you do the soundtrack?”
Can I do the soundtrack? I’ve only had that music memorized trill by forte since I was ten. I gave him a sample, and he was mighty pleased. (I would like to point out that in that particular scene there actually is no soundtrack music, so I was humming the part where the Jawas pick up R2. It hardly matters because Anthony Daniels.) He selected some people to do sound effects, plus a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman and her mom because the kid was just too cute. Then he gave us all microphones and had us act out the scene. The sound effect people didn’t do their jobs when he called action. He stopped us, appalled.
The next time we got it right.
The rest of the panel was predictably lovely and hilarious, and Daniels may or may not have accidentally let it slip that he’s in talks to do Episode VII. (Can we honestly imagine Star Wars without at least one exchange between the droids? He has to be in it.) He gave fans a hard time for asking about minutiae that really wasn’t his area—no, he doesn’t know or care why Vader doesn’t recognize 3PO in the original trilogy—and talked all about how much fun it was inside that hellish droid suit, and how he occasionally fell over on set with loud crashes.
And then it was over, and on his way out, he thanked the fiancée and I. For my part, it was still hard to believe that was how I’d spent my Sunday afternoon. That was C-3PO. My favorite since I was six. And instead of walking out of the convention after a citing, or toting an autograph, I had something much more valuable—I had a story.
Guys, one of you has to lend me a time machine so I can go back and tell my ten-year-old self that’s coming some day. I will be so impressed with me.
UPDATE: ADORABLE VIDEO PROOF WITH THE FIANCÉE:
I have also been instructed to add a picture with the gold leggings… *holds breath*
Emily Asher-Perrin is still slightly horrified that there is video footage of her in those leggings somewhere. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere. The Fiancée’s Twitter can be found here @inland_sailor.