A way back when, sometime around the initial release of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas talked about his idea for a trilogy of Star Wars trilogies, and that one of the through-lines for that trilogy would be the presence of the droids C3PO and R2D2. In fact, the story would be, in essence, told through their, uh, eyes. So when production began on Star Wars Episode VII, and rumors of the casting of original trilogy actors began, it seemed indisputable that Threepio and Artoo’s portrayers Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker, would be returning to a galaxy far, far away. In a recent interview, Daniels discussed returning to Star Wars, how he responded when director J.J. Abrams called, and why the franchise’s future will provoke feelings in fans not felt since the original trilogy’s release.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Daniels discussed a couple of different things. First of all, Daniels will still be physically playing Threepio. So no, the droid will not be a CG invention as some feared and instead the 68-year-old actor has stuffed himself inside Threepio’s robot skin, albeit with a slight but important alteration.
“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. [During the prequels], the only time [Threepio has] been CG was when it was very dangerous [to act in the scene in a suit] — and it wasn’t very good. In fact, I’m going to say it was awful. One of the difficulties is with a character that you know and love so well is that, as a member of the audience, you go, ‘Oh no, that’s not right. No, he doesn’t move like that.’ With me [in the suit], he’s always going to move the same way and have the same reactions, timing, and so on. With CG, you’re working with some brilliant person on the keyboard who is trying to pretend to be me. The only time that has worked without doubt is Disney’s Star Tours: The Adventures Continue [theme park ride]. There’s an element in the pre-show which is digital and I cannot tell it’s not me. It’s brilliantly done by Disney. In a cartoon series like Rebels, you accept it because it’s not trying to pretend to be reality. It’s an extension, it’s an exaggeration. On that basis, it’s utterly acceptable — providing the characterization is correct.”
Next, can a robot learn and grow and change? Daniels gave a thoughtful answer to the question, but assured fans that they are going to get the same old crotchety and nervous protocol droid:
“It’s a very good question actually. [Pause]. If you ask me about Episode VII … of course I will deny any knowledge whatsoever. But it occurred to me on the set the other day, because I’ve been doing it for so long, being 3PO for so long, I have a kind of confidence about what he would do in a particular scene. 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. He might meet somebody who is rude or smelly or just awful and that brings out — I won’t say snobbishness, he is a bit of a snob but … it brings out his reactive quality. That’s always funny for me because I look for new ways to become appalled. A lot of the time in the studio, you should realize, I read the words, my mouth opens, he comes out of my mouth and we all laugh. I laugh. The director laughs, and the engineer laughs. You think, ‘Yeah, this is really good.'”
Finally, Daniels talked about the feeling about Star Was and how the reaction to Star Wars Rebels when it premiered at Comic Con captured some of the energy of Star Wars’ banner years, and why that’s just the beginning for fans looking to get that old Star Wars love back.
“It’s very elusive and I’ll tell you: It’s where we’re going now with Episode VII. We’re all back. And it’s great, actually, that Rebels is set before Episode IV because that film is quintessential basic, ‘This is Star Wars.’ And you know George always used to say every time I arrived on set, I would always arrive for the first time back on set in costume, and during the prequels George would say when I arrived on set that ‘Star Wars has arrived’ — because I was the old fashioned link. Rebels is is an old fashion link to the old fashion film, which which we all loved. And you will love Episode VII — I have electrodes strapped to my head to zap me if I say anything more about it.”
It’s nice to finally hear from one of the cast members of Episode VII even if its just in generalities, but the one thing that does come across is the positive energy that Daniels has in regards to these new Star Wars films and projects. Dare we let the hype start to infect us and cover over the shame and grief of the prequels and the endless, pointless tinkering of the originals? I think it’s time to start getting excited people.
Star Wars Episode VII will be in theaters everywhere during the 2015 holiday season.
Source: Geek Tyrant