Anthony Daniels was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly on the subject of his near-40 years(!) as one of the most beloved mechanical beings in cinema. He didn’t give anything away about the plot of Star Wars: Episode VII, but he did have some to say about the experience filming, and about his role in Star Wars Rebels.
Along with some of Daniels’ usual banter about the character, he talked of how Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art (much of which is being used to inspire the look and design for Rebels) is what drew him to the character when he first strolled into George Lucas’ office. He then went on to point out one of 3PO’s more human characteristics:
And it’s only come to me recently, on the film set, that Threepio’s face is as asymmetric as a human’s face. It’s not actually a machine-made metrical object. It is as quirky and lopsided as any human’s face. I never realized that! Which is why that face has such humanity.
Though he tries not to give too much input on his own dialogue in projects like Rebels, it would seem that he gave exec producer Simon Kinberg some food for thought when he pointed out that C-3PO’s constant doom-mongering should not be thought of cowardice:
He’s not basically a coward. He has the logic to extrapolate any given situation to its dreadful end. The interesting thing is he only ever sees a bad outcome. He doesn’t have that capability or programming to say, “Well it could end up fine.”
Though his voice is one of the most iconic aspects to the character, Daniels insists that his body language is part of the magic. So when J.J. Abrams called him up about Episode VII and suggested that he might want to perform the part via recording-only, Daniels was quick to shut him down—and got a new droid suit out of the deal:
I will tell you that when [director] J.J. Abrams rang me to ask about filming Episode VII, one of the first things he said after he told me how wonderful I was — and that didn’t take long — but he then said, “Would you be interested in being in the film just doing the voice?” I said, “No,” and he said, “Right!” He knew I’d say that. There’s no way I would just do the voice. I also said that it can’t be the same suit. I will tell you that the team then got together and built a new suit. They made an entirely new look-a-like with changes that you will never notice [on screen] that made my life a lot easier. I can get it on and off very quickly.
While he wouldn’t give any details about the script or what was coming for his golden alter ego, he did suggest that perhaps 3PO has a grown a bit over his many years of dutiful service:
I think 3PO might have grown in confidence over the years because he’s survived so many dramas and he’s gained so much knowledge about what’s going on in the galaxy. He may have grown in that way. But generally the way he appears to grow is by being faced by new situations and new conflicts. He’s very much a washing machine—you could put in a set of fine lingerie and he might do it on a different cycle. It’s what you give him to do that brings out fresh attitudes.
The interviewer managed something near-impossible; asking Daniels a question he’d never heard before. Here was his response to his preferred fate of the protocol droid:
Humans die … I guess, wow. … Would he rust, gently? … I think probably he would realize that his programming was failing, that it was too old fashioned, and Microsoft had stopped supporting that particular brand. He would see upcoming new robots and realize his power source was running out. He’d say to R2, “Can you go down and get me a new power spectrum?” or whatever. I don’t think he’d ever—I’m looking at this image with [C-3PO wearing his replacement] silver leg. I think he would go on. Getting spare parts, getting surgery. And I think the people around him, humans and droids alike, would help because he would become part of their daily lives, part of their environment. They wouldn’t want to let him go.
Just R2 and 3PO patching each other up forever, getting silvery in their old age… getting emotional about aging droids, sorry.
You can read the whole interview over at EW for info on Star Wars Rebels and more!
[Image: Anthony Daniels and LucasFilm]