Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
By Jon Waterhouse
Like a gaggle of stormtroopers overtaking a Rebel transport, “Star Wars” fans have highjacked May the 4th as their very own high holiday. Some may be celebrating by baking a batch of Wookiee cookies, while others might be spiking their Yoda soda with a lightspeedy liquor. Actor Anthony Daniels, who played the most famous protocol droid in the universe in the “Star Wars” films, will be commemorating the day in a decidedly low key manner. The human behind C-3PO, who says he gets a call to reprise his role in various “Star Wars”-related projects “every other month” or so, will be having his own brand of “fun” on cuatro de Mayo.
MTV Geek: So how will you be spending Star Wars Day 2013?
Anthony Daniels: You may be surprised to hear that it was a slight surprise to me that it has become this phenomenon. Whereas I had relatively ordinary plans for a Saturday, a great colleague of mine has suggested and asked me if I would sign autographs at a book shop in Stratford-upon-Avon in England. So for the first time in my life, I’m appearing in the home of the bard, Shakespeare. Sadly, I won’t be acting onstage at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. I will be in this minute bookshop, I think from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., just talking for the heck of it, for the fun of it; signing autographs for anybody who realized at the last minute that I’m doing this. Because we only set this up about a week ago, and it’s just for fun. But why not? England has a huge share of its own “Star Wars” fans, stormtroopers, people in costume and that sort of thing. And I don’t do that many appearances. Suddenly it just tickled my fancy, as Shakespeare might have put it, to do this thing.
Geek: Well, it’s cool from a fan’s perspective that you’re doing this for fun, considering after all these years you’ve probably been swamped for autographs and people endlessly asking you to do the voice.
Daniels: The fact that I don’t go to that many signings or conventions makes it interesting for me and makes it a little different. If I did it every weekend, I’d probably get a bit tired of the whole thing. But as you know, there’s a huge event in Germany [Celebration Europe], I think at the end of July. It’s a big, official Lucasfilm event where there will be lots of stuff going on. Hopefully there will be guests coming over from America and so on. But that’s the only other signing I have in mind to do at the moment.
Geek: So if I were to come to the book shop on May 4, what would be the perfect present for you on “Star Wars” Day?
Daniels: Frankly, and you may be surprised at this, anything I could eat or drink. Because frankly at my time of life, I don’t want anything. I don’t mean that in a grand way. I don’t collect porcelain dolls, I don’t collect model cars, I don’t collect real cars, I don’t collect stamps. I have all the furniture that anyone could need in one lifetime. I’ve got enough socks and pants, a couple of changes a day, if necessary. I’ve got it all. I have [lots] of ties, and I maybe wear one a year these days. What else can I say? So a bottle of something pleasant. Meringues I like. [Laughs] It sounds like I’m a really easy buy. I don’t want to store anything. If you’re going to bring me a giant electric pepper mill, I’m just going to hate you for it, because even the packaging is irritating. I speak from experience. …So that is my present. And you can say “May the fourth be with you,” if you want. And I’ll give you a little smile, slightly weary, if you look carefully. But I would make the effort, say thank you, then go back to my hotel room and drink the wine. [Laughs] It’s disposable, and we recycle.
Geek: You are talking about pairing down. But I can only imagine that you being who you are and the character you’ve immortalized on screen, that you’ve received countless memorabilia and gifts relating to C-3PO. Is there any piece that you haven’t gotten rid of.
Daniels: Quite a few. You wouldn’t see them on display, but tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. The one I’ve most famously talked about before is the Scotch tape dispenser, which is this ceramic thing, about eight inches long and three or four inches high, that you’d have on your desk. It features C-3PO in the semi prone position with his knees in the air and his feet on the ground with the roll of tape between his knees and thighs. It’s like the position of giving birth. It makes me laugh, because it’s so repellent and so dreadful. It was made by a company called Tastesetter and once licensed by Lucasfilm, but not anymore. The one I like very much is a Beanie Baby C-3PO, because it’s so charming. He’s a cartoony type figure, he’s floppy, he’s cute and you can throw him at people and whatever. But I have other things and some quite expensive one-off things. I don’t know what to do with them, and one day I’ll wake up and do it. But it’s the memories that are much more valuable than what I’ve gotten. Like being with Miss Piggy on “The Muppet Show,” being with Big Bird on “Sesame Street.” These are magical things that don’t happen to most people I know, partly because they have real jobs, they’re doctors and lawyers, and they don’t intend to work with Miss Piggy. Nevertheless, there’s a certain charm to it, and it’s not over yet. At least I hope not.
Geek: If you had your own holiday, how would we celebrate Anthony Daniels Day?
Daniels: [Laughs] Maybe the readers should write in suggestions and make it official. What day would it be on?
Geek: Your birthday.
Daniels: Well, we’ve already missed it for this year. We could do that. It’s been the same day for quite a few years now. With modesty and everything, I’d give a little wave in the street. I really like it when people come up to me on the street, and they often do, because they’ve seen me. Some say, “Are you C-3PO?” And I look down at my shirt and pants and say, “Well, not today.” Other people come up and say, “Thank you for all those years.” You can’t buy that. You can’t order a box of thank you.
Geek: How do you think fans should celebrate May 4?
Daniels: By all means watch the movies, because now you can fast forward with all of these digital devices so you can get to all of the C-3PO moments, and you don’t have to sit through the rest of it. That’s what I do. One thing I won’t be doing is watching one of the movies. But you know every time I’m in America in a hotel room, you tend to turn on the TV a lot. And one of the “Star Wars” movies is always on.
Geek: Speaking of the movies, I would lose any journalism cred I have if I didn’t ask you about the upcoming trilogy. Are you going to be in the new movies?
Daniels: Now there’s an original question. And it’s interesting that you waited so long…Wait, wait. I gotta go. My people are waving at me now. …I’m just going to have to go, but in the meantime let me say [in C-3PO voice] May the fourth be with you, always, on “Star Wars” Day. [Laughs]