A Q&A with Anthony Daniels (C3PO), touring with "Star Wars: In Concert"
"Star Wars: In Concert," currently on a worldwide tour, stops at KeyArena Oct. 13.
Special to The Seattle Times
There can't possibly be another medium left for "Star Wars" to conquer, can there?
Try "Star Wars: In Concert," currently on a worldwide tour with a stop at KeyArena Oct. 13. The event is built around a full symphony orchestra and choir performing composer John Williams' score from all six "Star Wars" movies. Accompanying the music will be newly edited footage from the films displayed on a three-story-tall, high-definition LED screen.
The point of the experience, says "Star Wars" mastermind George Lucas in a news release, is to underscore "Williams' creativity and his extraordinary ability to enhance the emotional aspects of the films."
There are bonuses. An exhibit of costumes, props, artifacts, production artwork and behind-the-scenes videos from the Lucasfilm Archives will be displayed in the KeyArena concourses. Narrating the "Star Wars" saga is the only actor to appear in all six films: Anthony Daniels, better known as the hyper-fussy 'droid C-3PO. Speaking by phone from London, Daniels took a few minutes to talk about all things "Star Wars."
Q: What will happen at "Star Wars: In Concert?"
A: What people will see are 14 clips or sequences, cut together from all the movies. John Williams has rewritten the music to go along with the re-edited sequences, so it's a full, multimedia experience. It's interesting because when we go to a movie, we just accept that the music is part it. We don't think about how a composer actually wrote the score to fit the action. In our concert, the music is central, so you get to see more clearly how it goes with the story. I'll be narrating that story, which is a bit daunting as the show will be live. It's like walking a tightrope.
Q: How did you get involved?
A: Over the years, I've loved being on stage with an orchestra, waving my hands around. John Williams once asked me to conduct the London Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall, then the Boston Pops. But I've never done anything like this. The live sound of "Star Wars: In Concert" is extraordinary. It draws a lot of people who have never been to a symphony.
Q: But it sounds a little nerve-racking. For you, I mean.
A: I was talking to members of Oasis about how one survives a tour, watching for cues every night and concentrating and hoping not to make a mistake. Sometimes, I think to myself: how can I say, "A long, long time ago... " 50 times on this tour? The audience is the reason I can do it. I want them to hear this music live and remember the evening. I want it to stay with them for a while. We got a standing ovation in London. The energy so far has been wonderful.
Q: The story of "Star Wars," all the films taken together, is pretty complicated. How do you narrate all that?
A: I'm a small part of the legacy George Lucas has given all of us. Yet I must admit that I never got the gist of the whole story until this project. If you've never seen "Star Wars," we tell the story simply. You can come knowing nothing about it and go home knowing it completely. I find myself watching the clips at every show. I was looking at Harrison Ford and Sam Jackson on screen and feeling like they're family. Those are good memories.
Q: What sort of guy is George Lucas?
A: When George came to my dressing room in London, I was a little irritated. I was going over my lines, and there was a knock on the door, and there's George smiling. I'd never seen him more ebullient. He was utterly relaxed, which is not how I've seen him usually. He's private, he's shy, he thinks deeply. He's not good at small talk. People think of him as a god, but if he is, he's a god with bad clothes, horrible plaid shirts. Not many people know him well, but just like I'm not always C-3PO, he's not always the creator of "Star Wars." So we know each other. I can't imagine what it's like to be him. He has carried enormous responsibility for creating this thing. He feels a responsibility to the fans. It was the audience response that got "Star Wars" going in the first place. Imagine if it had been the "Death Wish" movie that had caught on instead.
Q: "Star Wars" has been around so long, you must be seeing people of all ages at the concerts.
A: There are indeed several generations of fans. It's a phenomenal thing. I liken it to people who are hooked on football or baseball, who live for the game. That passion crosses generations. "Star Wars" is like that. Part of the reason is that the films now exist in different media, on DVDs and video games and so on. You can see favorite moments over and over, and share that with your children.
Q: On your Web site, you get a lot of questions from some of the more obsessive "Star Wars" fans. The kind who live to point out gaffes.
A: That's not what anything should be about. I once worried about fans dressing up in costumes, then I realized that I do it, too, as an actor. I understand. Maybe people who do that are unhappy with their jobs and lives, and this gives them some happiness.
Q: Before "Star Wars," you had studied mime, and you had performed in a lot of radio dramas in England. You could not have had better training to play a robot character while encased head-to-toe in a metal costume.
A: Everybody uses mime and gesture in real life, though we don't realize it. It's very useful as a performance technique, though it can be boring to watch on its own. As for radio, I had a wonderful teacher. I was hugely lucky. I didn't want to play a robot, but the situation was an object lesson in fate taking over.
Q: You were quoted once as saying you're not a fan of "Star Wars." What did you mean?
A: George understood what I meant. He said to me, we can't be fans of the films because we made them. But with this concert, now we can.
Q: There's also an old story about how you walked out of "2001: A Space Odyssey" in 1968.
A: I can't tell you what the theater manager said, but it was rude. I said the film was very boring. I watched it later on a plane, and realized how brilliant it is. But I was too young and naive to appreciate it the first time. The funny thing is that Liz Moore, who designed the star child in "2001," worked on my C-3PO suit. She took a cast of my body. But it took chutzpah to walk out of "2001."
Tom Keogh: email@example.com
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