Victoria McNally

'Star Wars': I Hung Out With The Real C-3PO And He's In Love With BB-8, Too

And you can meet BB-8 yourself at the amazing, gorgeous 'Star Wars' costume exhibit.

"Star Wars" might take place in a fictional galaxy far, far away, but it sure can can feel like a real, living place when you're watching the movies. That's in no small part due to the many artists, designers, tailors and costume designers who hand-crafted the details of almost every piece of clothing and armor you see on the big screen -- even if you only catch glimpses of them for a few seconds at a time.

Starting on November 14 at the Discovery Times Square in New York City, Lucasfilm, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Smithsonian Institution are celebrating all that effort with a gorgeous new exhibit called "Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: 'Star Wars' And The Power Of Costume." The collection boasts 70 artifacts and costumes from the first six "Star Wars" movies, as well as a few pieces from the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (although those pieces won't tour with the rest of the exhibit when it's ended its run in NYC).

For those of us who grew up cooing over Padmé's beautiful wardrobe in the prequel trilogy, many of the couture gowns that Natalie Portman wears are on display here, including this iconic "Phantom Menace" look:

Victoria McNally

Fun fact: the reason Queen Amidala never really moves in this dress is because there was a car battery placed between her legs to light up the large jewels along the hem. Now, in the exhibit, they've fitted the gown with LEDs instead.

Fans of the original trilogy -- which, let's face it, is all of us -- will also be able to get up close and personal with pieces from the very first films, along with concept art from Ralph McQuarrie and the real-life images and outfits which inspired each look. You'll see things like beaten down Stormtrooper armor, Leia's iconic gold bikini, and more Jedi and Sith lords than you can shake a lightsaber at.

Victoria McNally
Victoria McNally

The exhibit won't be open to the public for a few days, but MTV was able to attend an early press tour to check out all the amazing props and costumes firsthand -- and even sat down for a chat with actual real-life protocol droid Anthony Daniels, AKA the magnificent human being who brought C-3PO to life in every single "Star Wars" movie to date. AAAAAAH.

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I almost C-3peed myself with joy.

Daniels is particularly excited for fans to be able to study the costumes and characters they've been watching on screen for decades, particularly those who might draw or cosplay the characters themselves. He's been a part of the series since the very beginning (his favorite character, in case you were wondering, is Darth Maul) and has been able to watch the fandom evolve since 1977 -- and as he pointed out, those fans are the people currently working on the franchise now, from crew members to new stars like Daisy Ridley.

"Over the years, especially in recent years when I've been in front of huge audiences for various things I've done and have experienced the really palpable affection and love that comes across the stage... you sense it," he said. "It's just like being in a play, and I've realized that I never got the impact of 'Star Wars' the way that everybody else did 'cuz I'm in it! And I know that I was sweating away in this thing whilst everybody was firing blasters."


The sweat and blaster fire is back in full force (pun not intended) for "The Force Awakens" -- the crew relied on real sets and props during filming, and Daniels notes that it made everything feel much different and more organic than his previous work on the green-screen-heavy prequels. "It became utterly believable day after day. You really were in a world that was real," he said. "J.J. very much wanted to get that dirty hands feeling, that grubbiness, and he really succeeded."

Having the original trio of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford back also felt very "normal" to Daniels, "slightly like coming home." Although, he admitted that it took a little while to get used to being the serious C-3PO, as he also lends his voice to a funnier version of the character for various LEGO projects. Daniels isn't just providing the voice for Threepio this time around; he's still on set in person, just as he was for all six previous movies.

Of course, he isn't wearing the very same original fiberglass costume he had in those films, which was famously uncomfortable and wouldn't even allow him to sit down (he even pointed out that holes in the hands on his suit from "Return Of The Jedi" that he had to cut in himself so that he could actually move them). But the new version of the costume, luckily, is much easier to move around in -- although looking down at a new red arm did throw him for a loop every once in a while.

"J.J. said in our first conversation, 'So, do you just want to do the voice?' and I said no," Daniels recalled." But I said I would like a new suit, because I've been using the same one for forty years... The biggest thing is that it's 3-D printed, which allows you to prototype very easily. You can try it and if it doesn't work, not a big deal to try it again. There's fixings that would take half an hour to put the head together, and now it takes eight seconds. I love it."

C-3PO also has a new robot buddy in BB-8, who's already captured the imaginations of "Star Wars" fans around the globe and who was filmed predominantly as a practical effect. "The first time I saw it on set I just couldn't believe what I was seeing or how I was seeing it. It just makes me smile looking at it. R2's really jealous," Daniels joked, then added, "No, 3PO is always happy to have a new friend. He likes companionship."

So in case you were wondering if there might be some droid-drama behind the scenes, don't worry about lil' BB. It's a big happy family over there.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hits theaters December 18.