When J.J Abrams first called Anthony Daniels to see if he’d be interested in reprising C-3PO for “Star Wars Episode VII”, he initially asked him whether he’d be OK with simply doing the golden droid’s voice.
That suggestion went down like a Death Star with a hole in it’s middle.
Daniels spoke to EW about that initial yak with JJ :
I will tell you that when [director] J.J. Abrams rang me to ask about filming Star Wars: 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.
As for what the new film is about? Daniels is keeping mum.
It’s very elusive and I’ll tell you: It’s where we’re going now with Star Wars: Episode VII. We’re all back. And it’s great, actually, that Star Wars Rebels is set before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 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 Lucas would say when I arrived on set that ‘Star Wars has arrived’ – because I was the old fashioned link. Star Wars Rebels is an old fashion link to the old fashion film, which we all loved. And you will love Star Wars: Episode VII – I have electrodes strapped to my head to zap me if I say anything more about it.
What Daniels will talk about is whether Threepio has grown over the course of the seven films.
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.
Speaking of “Episode VII”, new set photos have emerged which seem to show Adam Driver’s character getting about in an X-Wing pilot uniform. Consensus seems to be – since it’s already been revealed (though not confirmed) that Driver is playing the film’s villain – that the actor is playing a Rebel gone rogue.