A Polite Chat with Anthony Daniels, the Voice of Star Wars' C-3PO, who Comes to St. Louis Thursday for Star Wars In Concert

Share on Nextdoor
When Daniels arrives in St. Louis for tomorrow's show at the Scottrade Center -- which is dubbed Star Wars In Concert -- he'll be with an 86-piece orchestra. (Besides being a musical Cliffs Notes on the six-film saga, Concert also showcases the scores of John Williams.) There will also be movie props -- including the C-3PO costume -- on display for fans before the show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range in price from $32.50 to $72.50 (More details here.)

Update: See photos from the concert here.

We talked with Daniels about the tour, and laid on the fanboy questions about the infamous Star Wars holiday special, him cutting apart the C-3PO costume on set and whether he has any of those Kellogg's C-3PO's cereal boxes stashed away.

(Download a podcast of this interview.)

You are in Chicago now. How was last night's show in Cleveland?
It was glorious as I think back. In Cleveland there, yes. Every night has been pretty spectacular for us. And I think for the audience, too, because we see them sort of leap to their feet with a wonderful 'standing o' at the end of the concert.

You're wearing a tux, not your iconic costume, for this tour, correct?
Yes, my iconic costume is outside in the exhibition area of the arena before you go in. So get there early so you can enjoy the exhibit. The sheets of John Williams' scores and so on are on display. Everything  is real. Get there early, get in your seats early, so you can see the rather wonderful beginning of the concert.

When was the last time you donned the full costume?
About four or five months ago I think. Because we were remaking Star Wars Weekends for Disney. I'll be back in January in California still working on that. I'm happy not to be wearing it in the concert because I can talk to the audience and walk around.

It'd be interesting to be in front of all those people with that costume on.
I've done it and I don't need to do it again.

It doesn't look like a very comfortable costume. And you're known as one of the only Star Wars actors to cut up your costume during filming, right? Is that true?
I kept saying, "This doesn't work, this doesn't work." It was "ouch" every time, and I just got some metal snips and just opened it up. It was always the costumes. Only I knew which fits were really a problem. You can ask nicely a few times of [the crew] and finally just do it then.

Star Wars is famous for its symphonic score, but when Star Was made, disco was huge. Would you ever host a tour for Meco's Star Wars and other Galactic Funk?
Star Wars in Concert is a reviewing of the whole Star Wars saga. So you get a complete different aspect of it from our concert. I was always certainly very happy with the Meco version, it made me laugh a lot. And I did Christmas in the Stars, a rather strange album, which sort of haunts me to this day and to this joyous moment.

Star Wars in Concert
is actually a serious concert. I'm more of a classical music interest myself. So it' s a treat every night to be there with John Williams' absolutely classical-based score. Whether it's there's the big, building marches like the Darth Vader theme or the Star Wars theme, or they are sort of twinkly -- we have a whole passage about Ewok battle scenes -- or the wonderful can-can type music. Or the wonderfully crazy and boppy cantina band. Or the beautiful Princess Leia scene. There's a whole range of musical genre within this and emotional tugs as well. So there's a whole feast actually for somebody who likes music in this concert.

With the holidays here, how do you look back on the Star Wars Holiday special?

I remember it very well because as my driver took me away from the studio, I started laughing and he said, "What are you laughing about?" And I said, "Because I'm no longer on that." I cannot remember the adjective that I said I as finished my work on the very strange experience.

Until you have seen a line of Wookies entering carrying their glowing globes, you ain't seen nothing. It remains one of the black sheep of the joy of Star Wars, but almost is becoming its own entity; the shock value, if they ever re-release it... I defy anybody to watch it from beginning to end.

Do you have any unopened boxes of C-3PO's cereal around the house still?
I have one box, which is unopened. I always say that when the world really makes me angry, I will go up to a high place and open it and destroy the planet. But I do also have the art work box which is the one used [in] advertisements, because it is so beautiful. It's really a very rich picture on the front.

And those together with my little bits of the Millennium Falcon -- which sadly are the only bits that survived the bon fire that ultimately destroyed it --  they are in my kind of small little museum in an attic somewhere.

My fondness really at the moment, it's really amazing for me as I stand on the 27th floor of a hotel overlooking the lake in Chicago in the sunshine, is that after all my years of doing things with Star Wars, whether it's Kellogg's or Sesame Street, really Star Wars in Concert is absolute magic for me because it combines my old enjoyment of being  a stage actor, with of course the enormous thrill of being in all the Star Wars movies. Of course for somebody who didn't want to be in the first one, to end up on the 27th floor in Chicago, being the only person to work on all six Star Wars movies, still working with Clone Wars, is a very weird journey.

Star Wars is all about destiny and journey, and this has been mine.

C-3PO was original written as sleazy used-car salesman-type of character, but on-screen he was more nervous than anything else. What brought that to the character?
That was George's idea... he was always [sleazy] in the script, but it's how you interpret [the character]. That's the difference between actors. George never told me he wanted a sleazy guy. So I just looked at it. I had six months working with the script before we started filming because we were making the costumes, so I just interpreted it and George didn't have time to correct me. I'm afraid 3PO stayed the way he was. He is 3PO, he isn't me. He is this strange creation that came out of somewhere

As I look up through the clouds and to the sun, I'm wondering where did [C-3PO] come from? But I'm very glad he certainly did end up in my pocket.

We're nearing the end of the tour in St. Louis. What have audiences been like?
Curiously this is concert that appeals to quite wide variety of people. First of all, it's a tremendous family show, So I think from 3 to 93, you will have a good time. There is something for everybody in it. Especially the 93-year-olds with their memories of seeing this stuff 30 years ago. A lot of people have said they are going revisit the movies having been to our concert, so there is family aspect -- [everyone] from children to grandparents can come. The second thing is Star Wars fans who are just overjoyed at what we have.

The third thing is people who have never seen Star Wars. And we tell the story in such a way that you will come away knowing a slightly essential guide to the story of Star Wars. It's the skinny version, if you like. Forever afterwards you'll be able to bluff your way at cocktail parties saying, "Yes I know about Yoda ,or R2-D2 or Jabba the Hut, because the all the elements are there. It's just within a two-hour concert; so we don't have time to put all the details in.

The fourth group are people who adore, enjoy, like, symphonic sound. Because we do have the royal symphonic concert orchestra. It's an 86-piece symphony orchestra and a choir who play exquisitely every night as though it was the first time ever. And because of the way the show is written and the way John's music is scored, they come bouncing off the stage, having really enjoyed the workout of playing his really quite, very complicated scores. A lot of film music is slightly simplistic, but because of the way John writes in a way that is... he creates a character in his music as George does in his script-writing.

So that the music -- obviously a lot of people have their own theme tunes, you know the Darth Vader one is the easier one to think of or Luke's theme -- curiously and I'm going to ask [John] why one day, he's never made one for 3PO. Well I'm making up for that by humming along to everything and rather quietly because I can't sing and I don't want to put the audience off every night.

Besides there being theme tunes for each character, John's music is a huge personality within the film and in a way I think people don't realize that, they just absorb the film as one gigantic feast. but if you actually dissect it, I know what the film is like without music, because I've seen huge chunks of it when I've been working on it. Very early on, it came to me why you have film music and why secondly John is so good, because of his ability to tug your emotional strings.

It's technical and soulful as well. He has the ability to really get into you I think. So you know what the scene is about, you know how to feel about it. You are -- in the best possible sense of the word -- carried along, manipulated by it. The reason it stands on its own as a concert is because it's absolutely multilayered, deep rich and fulfilling. Every night, we and the band, as we call them, are thrilled by what we are doing.

Williams was an acclaimed composer before Star Wars. Did you know of him?
Not all, but I had never heard of George Lucas either. I clearly wasn't in the loop on these things. And one of the things, one of the wondrous things about John's work as a serious composer, is that his name is so widely disseminated around the world. He's been working recently on his harp concerto, I believe, which have i haven't heard yet but I'd be very interested to hear that now.

For him to have the kind of fame and appreciation that's come with his association [with] Star Wars and his other films, must be rather wonderful as composer, because there's plenty of people tapping away on their instruments who I've never heard of. John has thrilled millions and millions of people around the world, it must be rather thrilling

Can you describe the show in three adjectives?
Colossal. Thrilling. And touching.

Where do you reside?
London and the south of France is where I'll be spending Chrimstas.

After this tour ends, there's only one more date scheduled for March in Paris. Is that the end of Star Wars in Concert?
I'm getting so many twitters and e-mail requests about please bring it to Brazil, Germany, Portugal, England, Ireland, France, Italy. Interestingly, four of the major newspaper flew over to talk to me in Montreal the other day, did a little press conference before the show and then they watched it and got back on the plane.

Right now I'm living to come to St. Louis and beyond to end up in Nashville, to get on a plane to go home and have a very quiet Christmas.

Becuaese frankly, Star Wars in Concert, this first tour of North America has been very much like Christmas day every day. I think the actual official day is going to be a bit quieter.

It's not going to have tens of thousand of people every week being with me. It's quite an extraordinary role to go to work every day and gaze at anything between 5,000 and 20,000 people listening to me and the orchestra. It's quite a treat really. You should try it some day. Find an orchestra to work with.

About The Author

Scroll to read more Music News & Interviews articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.