Anthony Daniels, the actor forever associated with his golden protocol droid, C-3PO, has appeared in more Star Wars projects than any of the original actors. Now, he can strike TWO Star Wars Holiday Specials off his belt. The original, notoriously ridiculed for how out of control it got, aired November 17, 1978 on CBS during the height of the Star Wars craze. Fast forward to forty-two years later is a very cute animated special streaming exclusively on Disney+: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, based on the popular children’s (and grown-ups) toy.
While Anthony Daniels’ appearance in the new special is minor, he was still happy to talk about his LEGO-sized contribution to the new special and the larger Star Wars Galaxy after so many years.
Getting the Call
AD: I was really surprised that anybody, in the entertainment industry, would ever consider making another holiday special because the first one had really surprised people about how crazy it was. And then, of course, when I saw what they were going to do and that it was LEGO, I was just thrilled to be asked. I was delighted because I know anything with LEGO and anything with Star Wars Lego, it’s going to be a blast. I mean, look at the LEGO movie. The first one, I had what?, two lines in that. I adored being in it and the audience adored 3PO being in it. And as I said before, Lego has been a wonderful companion to Star Wars. They were made for each other, and they only discovered each other, I think if I’m right, around the… Yeah, after the third film, Return of the Jedi. So I think people who remember the original holiday special will be surprised. Hey, and give it a chance. Don’t ignore it because it’s got those words in it. This is different. This is fun. And it also references so many memories that audiences have around the world.
Thoughts on the NEW Holiday Special
AD: So intrinsically, a LEGO product is going to be fun, it’s going to be irreverent and it’s going to allow you to places you wouldn’t normally go in a Star Wars movie. And that’s why this one, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, allows you to go on weird adventures, meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet in the same room with and it works out. And it’s a great lead in. Anybody with small children who don’t yet know that Star Wars is a very important film concerning the adventures of a gold robot played by Anthony Daniels, if they don’t know, it’s a great introduction. And I think people are going to have fun over the holiday season talking about it and explaining to kids, well, this is about this and this is about that. And then let’s go watch the movie. So it’s an all around winner and actually has negated my earlier memories.
On This Special Arriving in 2020
AD: Well, it’s interesting that the original film was called A New Hope and these days, we need to feel there is hope and there is lightness, and fun, and joy in life. And without realizing it I think the producers of this film, this LEGO special, have hit the right moment to bring this out because we need, this year, right now in the holiday season, to be reminded that there are good things in life, there are good things to celebrate. It’s difficult right now for many, many people in all sorts of different circumstances. And this will, I think, begin a new beginning. I think there will be a holiday special next year. Please can I be in it? I don’t know. But this is a little launchpad for a new series. And I said it first, so I want to be there. There’s so much for a family to enjoy and if you’re not there with a family there is so much warmth in the program that you can relax, be there. Just stop looking out of the window for a moment and just sink into this program. And you’ll feel better, I think.
Recording C-3PO as Voice-Over vs In The Suit
AD: The only difference … Believe me Michael, the only difference is I’m not wearing the suit. I am there in jeans and a shirt of some kind that doesn’t make rustle-y noises in the microphone, so you have to be careful what kind of material you’re wearing. Because with 3PO I stand up, I stand as him, so very tight bum, tight stomach, and very tense because he’s a tense character, but he moves most of the time when he’s talking. And if I’m wearing the wrong clothes, cotton that’s a bit sharp or whatever, it can make rustle-y noises, so I had to be very careful to wear sloppy clothes. That way I can remain as physically as 3PO, much to the amazement of any visitors who watch. And they go, “God I can see the costume. I mean, I can see” … If you’re watch me people forget that I’m there in the shirt and the jeans, they see the gold. And that’s kind of fun for me. So that’s the only difference, I ain’t wearing the costume. As always … Well in an animation you tend to only have your lines, so always you have to read what, or ask what the line before was. What was the question that you are answering. But that is second nature to me because in the original film when I talked to R2-D2 they didn’t tell me, but R2-D2 never made any sounds, never replied, never beeped or anything until six months later when Ben Burtt, eventually, won an Oscar for being the voice of R2-D2. But way late for me on the set, and I went crazy talking to myself. So now in the studio, being in something like the LEGO special, I just have to imagine what somebody’s just said to me or what has happened. And it’s there in the stage directions on the script, so it’s the same.
Memories of the Original Star Wars Holiday Special
AD: I’m sure you have read my book in English, possibly, “I am C-3PO: The Inside Story”, because I’m plugging it away, like mad. Why not? But one of the most amusing chapters possibly, it refers to the original holiday special in 1978, which was remarkable in so many ways. First of all, filming it on the set in LA was a dismal, dismal experience. And bear in mind, this is meant to be the happiest day in the life of an Ewok. Not Ewok. What are the big ones called? The Wookiees. They will get together. Every religion has its festival days and Life Day is for the Wookiees. And there we were meant to be celebrating this event and there’s Mark and Carrie and Harrison and me in this very dark… basically black drapes. It was like a funeral. It was dreadful. And then you watched it and you thought, “I didn’t realize it was as dreadful as that.” Well, it was. So when the producers came to me and said, “We’re going to make a holiday special,” I laughed! But as you will find out, it’s very, very different and it’s charming and it’s LEGO that I adore. And 3PO has seen all sorts of things over the years. You know, he’s been on the Donny & Marie Osmond Show and the Muppet Show. And he’s used to crazy experiences that bring out certain qualities in him. And so long may that go on.
A Positive Memory from the Original Star Wars Holiday Special?
AD: I got paid. (laughs) And look, just to be there with Carrie and Mark and Harrison was always a pleasure. So we had each other. Frankly, if you watch it on YouTube, the last few moments of it, you can almost see the human characters and 3PO clinging, kind of nudging closer to each other like we were in a lifeboat trying to survive this wreck as the wookiees trampled over the scenery.
The Future of C-3PO
AD: I think his story is far from over. I am delighted to say the new Star Wars Holiday Special is the latest iteration, not the last I have to tell you, but my lips, I mean, Threepio’s lips are sealed. He doesn’t have lips, does he have lips? Anyway. There are other things coming up, not major movies but stay tuned. Threepio is too important a character to disappear and I don’t believe fans will allow him to disappear. And of course, the important thing is to remember, as somebody was saying earlier about Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the robot there and the wonderful Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, those characters stay alive forever and ever and ever.
Will C-3PO Appear in The Mandalorian?
AD: I would love to see C-3PO in The Mandalorian. And I hope you will be talking to the producers on my behalf because my phone is ready. The Mandalorian takes a new look and I think a new style approach.
AD: Please, everybody who’s listening, I have made a career out of wearing a mask and I’m going to say something I’ve not really said before. I’ve made a career out of wearing a mask. I want you to save your life by wearing a mask and maybe save the lives of others by wearing a mask. End of preaching it. But I mean it. I’m serious about COVID. I’m serious about taking precautions and you can quote me. 3PO wears a mask. You wear a mask.
The LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL is now streaming on Disney+
Parts of this conversation were edited for clarity.