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Star Wars Episode III - Anthony Daniels interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You've made movie history by becoming the only actor to have a speaking role in all six Star Wars movies. When did you realise, when you first embarked on this 30 years ago, that you were going to be involved in something that was going to be iconic?
A.
It was actually the cover of Newsweek magazine that just blasted the whole thing, saying 'this is the best thing ever', because as you know Star Wars opened with no publicity. It was just audiences going in and coming out screaming and taking their friends in and 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 down the road from here [London] and 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, as being a shelf-stacker in a supermarket, going 'I could have been in that movie?' So I guess The Force was with me.

Q. What was good about being in a tin can for weeks on end?
A.
Not a lot, frankly, the costume was made to a mould of my body but in the manufacturing of it, it all kind of shrank and whatever. On the first day, it took two hours with six prop guys, squeezing me and pushing me and screwing me in there. My moment of joy came in finally stepping out of the tent - there was no Hollywood glamour, it was a tent in the desert - and seeing the whole crew, American, English, Tunisian, and whatever. The Americans were like 'gosh, that's incredible'; and the English were 'quite interesting, isn't it?' And then the Tunisian crew were like in awe, they really thought I was the second coming. So that was my moment of joy.
The next moment, the assistant director said 'can you come over to the set' and I took one step in the costume and it broke and nearly cut my foot off. And I knew I was in deep doo-doo from then on.

Q. I imagine, therefore, that you couldn't even afford to put on a few ounces of weight?
A.
If you've met Rick McCallum, you know he's not about to make a new costume every time we do this thing. So I'm actually wearing the same costume and it's beginning to smell a bit. Like Hayden, I kind of work out a bit to stay a little healthy.
But the bigger shock for me was talking to myself through most of these movies because R2-D2 is adorable but doesn't speak. And it's kind of 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. You know, I'd explain to him 'it's difficult on my own, could you make a beep sound, could you...'. We were out in the desert and the camera was over there and I was yelling at him and he sort of said 'oh, sure'. So we did the scene again, [mimics C3PO voice] 'where are you going?' [Pauses] 'Oh, beep!'

Q. You get to say the opening line in the first film and the closing line in the last film, were you aware of that?
A.
I didn't realise that I had the last line in this movie because sometimes the script changes and so on. I had the first line of the first movie, which was 'did you hear that, they 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 [laughs]. I'd never been in a film before and I thought 'this is weird'. But then George and I, 28 years later, walked into a sound stage in Australia and saw the same set and it was an extremely odd little jump. But the last line isn't the most Shakespearean of lines, it's 'oh no!' but what was great is that Jimmy Smits, who is such a gorgeous person, came up to me and said 'how can I say this, how can I say just wipe his mind like that, and have this droid's memory wiped'. I just replied, 'think of him as a washing machine, he's a house-hold object, he doesn't feel'.

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