‘Star Wars’ actor Anthony Daniels shares secrets about playing C-3PO and writing his new memoir

By Sarah Walker

What is it like being the human behind one of the world’s most famous sci-fi characters? Complicated, at least for Anthony Daniels.

For more than four decades, the charming and soft-spoken Brit has been the only person to play Star Wars’ beloved golden robot, C-3PO. Yet many don’t know who Anthony is, and couldn’t pick him out from a crowd on the street.

Now, ahead of the release of this year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the 73-year-old has released a memoir, I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story (with a foreword by director J.J. Abrams). It lifts the veil on his experience as one of the world’s most famous yet unknown actors. It’s a charming, candid and honest work, which leaves the reader feeling connected to the man behind Threepio’s mask.

Anthony’s years spent in a galaxy far, far away have been rewarding ones. But the role has also come with its share of challenges, especially in the saga’s early years, which he candidly revists in his memoir.

C-3PO and R2D2 arrive on the red carpet at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017. Photo: © Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The work it took to bring trusty C-3PO (or, as he endearingly writes it, “See-Threepio”) to life was sometimes overshadowed by the performances of his unmasked co-stars, Anthony reveals. Producers even asked him to avoid premieres and other Star Wars events to help maintain the illusion that C-3PO really was a droid (sentient robot).

As a result, he couldn’t really celebrate his success publicly.

“Writing about those things hurt again in a different way,” he says.

“Through the retelling of the experiences, I’ve realized that had I had given up… various things would never have happened to me,” the actor then concedes. “I’ve learned by sticking with things [through adversity], good times – better times – are always on their way.”

HELLO! Canada caught up with Anthony to find out what life has been like – both in and out of his golden garb.

Anthony at a Star Wars exhibit in London in 2007. Photo: © Eamonn McCormack/WireImage

COSTUME QUIRKS

“It can get quite achy all day wearing the suit. It takes so long to get on, it can’t be taken off easily. Standing up all day and not being able to bend at the knee or hips… it’s basically torture.” [Laughs]

HITTING A HIGH NOTE

“What I didn’t know [when I came up with C-3PO’s voice] is it’s a voice I can stay with. If it was lower, I couldn’t do it because of changes in atmospheric pressure. It’s a higher octave, so I can easily and unknowingly slip into it in casual conversation if I’ve been doing it a lot on-set. It’s quite weird. A couple of times in the audiobook [of my memoir], there are moments where I think, ‘Who is speaking: me or 3PO?’”

Anthony (right) with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) at Disney’s Star Wars celebration in 2015. Peter passed away earlier this year. Photo: © Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

REMEMBERING CARRIE FISHER

“It was sad because we knew her, and we miss her. The difference is the grief and mourning was a global experience because everyone loved [Princess Leia]. Her death took on a dimension that she would have laughed at. She would have enjoyed the attention. I didn’t see her coffin, but I hope it had glitter on it because she drove me crazy spreading glitter around. At conventions, she would just shower everyone with it and she would think it was tremendously funny.”

CANADIAN LOVE AFFAIR

“I love Canada. We were actually in California and my wife [Christine] said, ‘We could go home via Toronto’ because we like the city so much. There’s a familiarity. And everyone talks about the Canadian kind of attitude toward things – the niceness and whatnot. What’s not to like?”

FIT FOR THE PART

“I work out most days in the gym using a lot of reps of low- to medium-sized weights because I can’t afford to grow muscles. I need to avoid bulk to fit into Threepio’s suit. I will say the muscles around the [abdomen] are very important in keeping me together.”

THE END OF THE DAY CALLS FOR…

“Wine. White. Dry. A Chardonnay or a Marsanne. Anything in a glass, really.”

This piece was adapted from HELLO! Canada issue 690, on newsstands across the country now! It’s also available for iPhone and tablets.

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