In Anthony Daniels’ new autobiography I am C-3PO: The Inside Story, the veteran Star Wars performer chronicles his astonishing decades-long journey through a galaxy far, far away, from unlikely beginnings in the 1970s to his time filming the upcoming Episode IX, with plenty of highs and lows along the way.
“I wanted to give a slightly rounder picture of what it was like, what it is like, what it has been like,” Daniels told RadioTimes.com. “I found some of it quite interesting and some of it quite difficult.”
But on reaching the end of Daniels’ book, having read through years of his life (and multiple Star Wars trilogies) inside the golden droid suit of C-3PO, fans may be shocked to discover his poignant conclusion, where the star admits he believes one day he’ll be replaced in his signature role.
“I surely recognize, I will someday leave the stage,” Daniels writes in his book’s final chapter. “I hope I will do so in the knowledge that I have imbued See-Threepio with enough life that, with the love of the fans, he will go on without me.”
And when we caught up with him, Daniels was sanguine about the character’s chance of continuing without him.
“Yes, I quite countenance that,” Daniels told us. “There are people wandering around Disney theme parks, dressed in rather better suits than mine. They seem to move a lot more easily.
“I absolutely admit and accept that. And quite right: he is too good of a character, too big of a character, to die with me. And Disney paid a lot of money for him! You know what I mean? They’ve got to get their money back somehow.”
In I am C-3PO, Daniels jumps through different periods of his life in the shadow of Star Wars, from his early friendship with Sir Alec Guinness and struggles to feel appreciated in the first trilogy through the trials of the prequels, all the way through to his most recent experiences working with JJ Abrams, who ended up writing for the foreword for the autobiography.
And while his full-body costume made him an icon (and allowed him to continue playing the character without ageing), the anonymity of it was always a struggle.
“As I say in the book, in the beginning it bothered me that nobody was allowed to know who I was. It hurt me greatly,” Daniels told us.
“But I never wanted to be famous. I don’t know what the point of it is, really. Unless you’ve done something amazing, like you’re David Attenborough, it doesn’t interest me.
“I’ve been around famous people and it seems like a tonne of work. People just stare at you all the time. I get recognised quite often enough to make me happy – that people just come up to me in the street. ‘Are you C-3PO?’ And I’ll say, ‘not today, but sometimes’.”
And of course, as the only person to star in every Star Wars movie to date, including all nine Star Wars saga movies, Daniels is pretty happy with the impact C-3PO has made.
“He’s the breadcrumbs, that help you recognise, as you follow the path, that this is a Star Wars path,” he said. “And that was George Lucas’ original intention.
“R2 and 3PO would be ‘the common man’. Using ‘the common man’ as a trope in a piece of literature is not a new thing, that you are given a hero or something you recognise, to hold your hand, if you will, through the story. And how lucky it is that I got that part.”
And who knows? Maybe one day, someone else will get to know that lucky feeling themselves.
I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story by Anthony Daniels is published by DK, priced £18.99, and is on sale now