C-3PO: Q&A with Anthony Daniels

Neela Debnath

Anthony Daniels 225x300 C 3PO: Q&A with Anthony DanielsFamous for his role as the irritable but endearing golden robot C-3PO in ‘Star Wars’, actor Anthony Daniels gave his thoughts on Science Fiction and Fantasy at the London MCM Expo at the ExCel Centre.

Why do you think there has been a growth in Science Fiction and Fantasy films?

I think there is a tendency to go for things that are slightly, how would you say, there to distract you…which is why ‘Star Wars’ worked in the first place. In 1976, 1977, the world was a pretty troubled place and still now we have wars going on. We have people being a little uncomfortable in their life on earth with finances and so on, so Science Fantasy or Science Fiction allows people to think that there are possibilities beyond the gravity of our planet. People’s imaginations are now quite stoked by science and of course you hope that’s going to lead people to become scientists because we actually do need scientists to keep going.

But what I love about ‘Star Wars’ is that it’s induced, created all sorts of spin-off activities in people who create comics, costumes, who write, who draw, who’ve developed their imagination because George’s imagination was so far up ahead of everybody else. It’s become, as he would put it, ‘a giant sand box for people to play in’ and I’m a part of it. I have fronted exhibitions at major cultural establishments in Japan and in America and in Europe where it belongs in art galleries. Some of the designs, some of the artwork, the costuming and so on, are genuine works of art that have been sponsored, if you will, by George. He really is a patron of the arts and the creativity is extraordinary.

Aside from ‘Star Wars’ are there any other works of Science Fiction or Fantasy that you like?

I quite like post-apocalyptic films, things like ‘Mad Max’ for instance, because they are so full on and there is something quite cleansing about the post-apocalyptic because you can see where we all think we’re heading. But we can also, generally, in these films see that there is hope. There are only some films like ‘On the Beach’ where everybody dies, [written by] Nevil Shute, that’s so upsetting. I don’t think that’s been re-made for a long time because people don’t want to know that we’re all going to die out. So I’m more open to Sci-Fi but always you hope that these special effects are not going to outweigh the stories and the characters, and of course it’s a tendency people have now.

Is it true that you walked out of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ after 10 minutes?

Oh, no, I gave it longer than 10 minutes but interestingly, last year I saw it twice. It’s a brilliant film. But that was so early on in my career. It was even before I became an actor but I was too young to enjoy it back in 1968 and I think a lot of people were. Now you look at it, it’s a masterpiece. Still, I don’t understand the end but it was one reason not to go and see George Lucas, and now look at me 35 years later, having had in the last few years an extraordinary rethink, a revisiting of it. Because I’ve seen how much people love the thing that I and George Lucas and other people have made, and people are so overwhelming in their love and affection, that I’ve realised that I can love and be affected by it too.

When you think we made this funny little film, it was 12 weeks of my life and because the audience took hold of it and loved it, it has become 35 years of my life and now I constantly go on with ‘Clone Wars’. There’s a wonderful thing out – it’s Lego animation, it’s so funny because it pokes fun at ‘Star Wars’. Now ‘Star Wars’ is such an entity you can make fun of it kindly and nicely; it is a part of our culture.

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Image credit: Neela Debnath/The Independent

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