C3P0 versus R2D2
Originally posted at mirror.co.uk click for the full post.
by JESSICA BOULTON
Anthony Daniels says co-star Kenny Baker is only “on the credits as a sort of courtesy” ahead of the December release of Episode VII
When it comes to Star Wars Episode VII, there is most definitely a disturbance in the force.
Yet this time it’s not Darth Vader causing trouble. It’s a real life robot wars between C-3PO and R2-D2.
In fact, just the mere mention of Kenny Baker – the actor who plays R2-D2 – makesC-3PO star Anthony Daniels visibly bristle.
Their battle began a long, long time ago (in a galaxy not so far away, known as Pinewood Studios) when Kenny, 83, blasted Anthony for being the “rudest man I’ve ever met.”
Anthony has repeatedly refused to retaliate – that is, until now.
So what has pushed the normally genteel C-3PO over the edge?
Well, according to industry bigwigs, when Episode VII: The Force Awakens opens in December, these two will be the only actors to have appeared in all seven Star Wars films, which has made them each untold millions.
But you don’t need to be a Jedi to sense that Anthony, 69, doesn’t quite agree.
“He’s not actually on the set,” scoffs Anthony, with a wave of his hand uncannily similar to his droid alter ego.
“I haven’t seen him for years. His name is on the credits as a sort of… I don’t know, a good luck charm, a courtesy. He’s a talisman.”
No doubt Kenny might have some choice words about that and his people insist that he’s very much involved.
He previously accused Anthony of calling him a “little man” – a more than unfortunate phrase considering Kenny’s 3ft 8in stature.
“He’s been saying unpleasant things about me. I just don’t comment,” sniffs Anthony.
However shocking the droid wars are, Anthony’s verdict on the Star Wars franchise’s most drooled-over scene is even more eyebrow-raisng.
Yes, while millions of men would have gladly battled Darth Vader to be there, Anthony reveals that filming the infamous Princess Leia’s gold bikini scene was simply “boring”.
“Oh, yes. That took three days to do,” says Anthony, who married his long-term girlfriend Christine last year.
“We actually got bored and quite tired of looking at Carrie in her gold bikini.
“This is the thing, she wasn’t comfortable. She was very uncomfortable really.
“But she didn’t complain because she’s a professional.”
For nearly 40 years, Star Wars has been his full-time job, affording the dad-of-one a very comfortable home in London and France.
And now with the JJ Abrams taking over the helm after Disney bought the rights from George Lucas, the future is looking even more golden for the droid.
But for a man who knows he owes his livelihood to C-3PO (and jokingly calls his young fans his “pension plan”) he has a love/hate relationship with his alter-ego.
As the story goes, Anthony, born in Salisbury and the son of a plastic company boss, was on stage in Piccadilly Circus hoping to be the next big Shakespearean actor when his agent set up a meeting with Star Wars mogul George Lucas.
Anthony hated sci-fi and turned up at the meeting in nearby Soho just “to be polite”.
Yet, after seeing an artist’s impression of C-3PO – he did an immediate u-turn.
What he could never imagine is what a global behemoth Star Wars would become. Since 1977’s A New Hope, the six films so far made a huge £2.8billion.
Some 39 years on, he genuinely believes that it was “something bigger” which altered his fate – The Force itself.
“I was genuinely reluctant, embarrassed to do the role. But I fell in love with his face. He just looked really lost – and I wanted to help him.
“Had there been more than about five blocks between Piccadilly Circus and meeting George in Soho Square I probably wouldn’t have bothered going.
“That’s what hit me during the premiere of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I was standing on the balcony in Leicester Square with Ewan McGregor.
“I looked down at everyone and thought: ‘I could so easily have been walking through here and looking up at this balcony and seeing someone else’.”
Today, Anthony IS C-3PO. He’s involved in every film, the animated Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, the documentaries, the video games, the conventions, the Star Wars: In Concert shows, the Disney ride and even had a cameo in 2013’s The Lego Movie.
Yet he still sees it very much as “my job”. The only memorabilia he has is a Lego statue of C-3PO, more because he loves Lego than anything else.
And there’s also no disguising a small hint of regret about his chosen path.
“I look at actors now and either I never knew how to do it – or I’ve forgotten,” he says.
“When we did the first film all my friends were at the National Theatre. And I felt very inferior.
“I suppose there’s a bit of me that still feels – I don’t know if the word is inadequate – but I hadn’t meant to do this, it wasn’t meant to be. But then The Force took over – and I lost the way of being a Shakespeare actor.”
After a pause, he adds: “But then the things I’ve done as him have been absolutely amazing, like working with Miss Piggy, Kermit, Robin Williams…That was sad.”
Now of course is not really the time for retrospection.
After the questionable prequels (Anthony rolls his eyes, “Can I watch the prequels very often? ..no”), Star Wars is back – and this time Anthony’s been reunited with the rest of the original cast, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.
We’re technically banned from talking TFA by the multi-billion dollar franchise’s new owners Disney. But Anthony’s not afraid of the mouse.
“Harrison was just brilliant, he just made me smile – I’m smiling at the memory. He’s 72 but still got the charm, the charisma.
“He’s had some bad times – first his ankle and then the plane. But he’s back on good form.
“What is funny is C-3PO looks the same – Harrison, Carrie and Mark .. not so much…
“Poor Mark. He was a young lovely looking lad when he was first Luke Skywalker and now… well…”
- Read more: Curse of Star Wars strikes again as Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill nearly dies
While Anthony can hide his ageing features behind his mask, he does face another challenge – he had to go on a strict diet to get into the suit.
“People think it’s all fun but I was having to go to bed early and hit the gym at 6.30am!,” he says. “I had to lose a stone. Now I weigh less today than I did on the first film.”
Anthony still remembers that first time he put on C-3PO’s suit in 1976 – changing in a small tent in the Tunisian desert.
“I was in tears,” he says. “It took two hours to put on. It was amazing I managed not to go to the toilet all day…and I felt so alone in there.
“You should see me when I take it off though. I look like a newly-hatched chicken all red and blotchy.
“And there’s no dignity. I even had to see a surgeon for nerve damage.”
What’s more, he only has “tunnel vision” when his sight is restricted by the suit, which led to some very expensive accidents.
He reveals how he once fell over in the desert “smashing the only suit in the world”, and leaving them with no choice but for him to wear jeans and cut his legs out of shot.
And that was nothing compared to how he almost died during the prequels – falling out a window 40ft up.
“Ewan and Natalie Portman were in the middle of this really serious scene, when they hear this noise…”, Anthony acts out.
“I’d tripped over a step, was hanging half out of a window and all they could see was this golden butt sticking up. I could have landed 40ft down on my head – or, worse, damaged the costume.”
It was during the same films – criticised for their overuse of CGI – that he was reduced to hysterics, when Lucas told him to step out of shot as they could “just mac him in on the computer later”.
Anthony laughs: “Ewan said: ‘Well he’s standing right here, why doesn’t he just do it?’’”
Anthony insists he has “great respect” for George, and “loves JJ” – they’ve been texting throughout the interview. But it’s his old co-stars that really bring a smile to his face, particularly seeing Carrie, who’s had struggles with bipolar since they first met in the 70s.
“I’m so fond of her,” says Anthony. “There’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst us older ones. We’re on the ride home now…”
So with the big 7-0 next year, could there be a day when Anthony thinks it’s time to hang up his golden boots and retire?
He says: “I’ve signed up for the next two films, 8&9. I’ll have to do those two otherwise I’ll have a mouse at the door and they’ll arrest me.
“But I’ll be around 75 by then and by that point I’ll be thinking ‘I can’t be bothered’.”
So if he does take a backseat, what would happen to C-3PO?
“I’d be sorry if he ended up rusting in the corner,” says Anthony quietly. “It’s like when you think of your first car and it ends up in the scrapyard getting squished…C-3PO’s too good for that,” smiles Anthony.
“When one loses someone you’re fond of, it’s sad.”
It’s still a few years off, maybe The Force will convince him otherwise. One thing has changed in the 40 years however.
“I’ve warmed to sci-fi,” he says. “But my favourite films are probably Mad Max and…Pretty Woman. Big Mistake, huge…”
Big mistake? Despite his mixed feelings about his lifetime role, something tells us he knows that’s exactly what he would have made if he’d said no to George…