As the only actor with a speaking part in all six Star Wars movies, Anthony Daniels has achieved a kind of screen immortality. He has become so closely identified with the role of C-3PO that in the 28 years since Star Wars Episode IV, he has undertaken a wide range of promotional activities in character and has written extensively about his experiences. His other films include I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle and Urban Gothic. Currently he is involved in science related projects with the Discovery Channel.
When did you realise you were a part of something special with these films?
It was actually the cover of Newsweek magazine that blasted the whole thing out there, saying "This is the best thing ever!" Star Wars opened with no publicity, it just had audiences going in and coming out screaming, then taking their friends to see it so it built. Originally Star Wars for me was a 12-week gig and that was it. It's 30 years since I met George in an office in London. I didn't want to meet him, I didn't want to play a robot in a low budget sci-fi movie. Can you imagine how I would have felt today being a shelf stacker in a supermarket going "I could have been in that movie!" So I guess the Force was with me.
What's your favourite part of the six films, something about the costume perhaps?
Frankly, no. The costume was made to a mould of my body and, somewhere in the manufacturing process it shrank. On the very first day it took two hours with six props guys squeezing me and pushing me into it. My moment of joy finally came as I walked out of the tent in the desert and saw the whole crew of American, English and Tunisian helpers. The Americans would go "Gosh that's incredible!". The English would go "That's quite interesting, isn't it?" and the Tunisians would fall to their knees thinking I really was the Second Coming. That was my moment of joy. The next moment the assistant director asked if I could come over to the set, I took one step in the costume and it broke and nearly cut my foot off.
Presumably you have had to keep your weight in check over the years to fit into the costume...
If you've ever met [producer] Rick McCallum, you'll know they're not about to make a new costume every time we do this thing, so I'm actually wearing the same costume as I did back then. It's beginning to smell a bit now. I work out a bit to stay strong and stay healthy.
What are the other difficulties you had to overcome for the role?
The biggest shock was talking to myself through most of these movies because while R2-D2 is adorable, he doesn't speak. It's hard to do a performance with actors who actually don't respond. I tried to get George to go "beep" at the end of a line I'd said. I was explaining how difficult it was and asked if he could do this. We were out in the desert and he said "Oh, sure". So we did the scene again and he added the beep himself.
You also got to say the first line in Episode IV and the last word in Episode III.
I didn't realise that I had the last line in this movie because sometimes the scripts change. I had the first line in the first movie which was "Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactor. There'll be no escape for the Princess this time." I didn't really know what I was talking about, I'd never been in a film before and I thought it was weird. Then George and I, 28 years later, walked into a soundstage in Australia and saw the same set. It was an extremely odd jump. The last line here is not the most Shakespearean though: "Oh no!"
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 19th May 2005.