Star Wars Celebration: Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

April 18, 2015 | 9:10 a.m.
C-–3PO (Anthony Daniels) and his trusty droid companion, R2–D2 in the "Star Wars" saga. (Lucasfilm)

C-–3PO (Anthony Daniels) and his trusty droid companion, R2-–D2, in the “Star Wars” saga. (Lucasfilm)

If C-3PO brings a little comic relief to the “Star Wars” saga, then the man who inhabits the robot, Anthony Daniels, is the one who brought the humor to Star Wars Celebration. While fans may have wanted dirt on the upcoming J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Daniels instead wanted to dish on unfortunate product placement and the uncomfortable places sand can find itself in a robot suit.

Daniels treated his hourlong discussion Friday night at Celebration as if it were a variety show, playfully flirting with an audience member dressed as C-3PO’s robot companion, R2-D2, and interjecting numerous jokes into his tales of “Star Wars” past. The conversation brought to a close the second day of panels and discussions at the four-day fan expo, one that had earlier hosted lively conversations with the likes of Carrie Fisher and Ray Park.

A fan favorite who’s inhabited the voice and body of C-3PO for nearly 40 years across numerous “Star Wars” properties, Daniels arrived in a shimmering gold sport coat and walked the crowd before taking the stage. Hosted by voice-over actor James Arnold Taylor, the two didn’t waste any time in bringing out the embarrassing stories. Taylor started right into it, asking Daniels some of his most regrettable “Star Wars” marketing tie-ins.

VIDEO: A look at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim

“You’re right that there’s quite a few,” Daniels said. “It’s so embarrassing with the Internet. They come back to haunt you. There is one: underwear.”

A montage of vintage “Star Wars” commercials and marketing tie-ins then aired on the screen above Daniels and Taylor. There was C-3PO dancing with Kermit the Frog, C-3PO selling breakfast cereal and C-3PO discussing the pros of “Star Wars”-branded Underoos. “Don’t be so ridiculous, R2,” said C-3PO in the commercial, “Underoos are for earthlings!”

“Anything for money,” Daniels quipped.

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"Star Wars" fans Sharon Jackson, left, dressed as Mission Vao, of Las Vegas, and Kyle Jackson, dressed as a Wookiee, pose for pictures during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Costumed "Star Wars" fans Corin Zinninger as Darth Reuan, Sharon Jackson as Mission Vao, Kyle Jackson as a Wookiee, and Brennan Zinninger as Carth Onasi, all of Las Vegas, pose for pictures during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Costumed "Star Wars" fans pose with toy lightsabers during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Dressed as "Star Wars" character Oola, Moe Hunt of Chicago poses with Roxy the Rancor during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A "Star Wars" fan dressed as Darth Vader leads a parade of characters from the 501st Legion costume organization as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A security guard inspects "Star Wars" fan and Modesto resident Steve Gwin, a member of the worldwide 501st Legion costume organization, during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion costume organization parade through the halls of the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Charlotte Davis, 2, of San Diego, plays with bubbles from a bubble-making R2-D2 during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Danielle Young of Salem, Mass., is dressed as Princess Leia during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Molly Ingham of South Carolina shows off her costume -- "Frozen's" Queen Elsa as a Sith -- during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Molly Ingham, right, of South Carolina shows off her costume -- "Frozen's" Queen Elsa as a Sith -- during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans Anthony Lopez, left, of Sacramento and Torri Robbins, right, of Denver show off their Shadow Trooper costumes during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fan Anthony Lopez of Sacramento shows off his Shadow Trooper costume during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Jovan C. of Norco checks his phone while dressed as Luke Skywalker during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A man who goes by the name of "Hyper" poses as a beach-ready stormtrooper. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Actor, stuntman and performer Lucky McQueede of Santa Clarita performs as Darth Maul cyborg, right. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Youngsters learn how to use light sabers during a Jedi training seminar. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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The Hodge family: Kelly, Milo, 6, and Dave, of Nashville sport their homemade biker scouts outfits from "Return of the Jedi." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A Star Wars Celebration attendee enjoys an exhibit at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans view the Hot Wheels' Life-Size, 150-mph Darth Vader car, based on a C5 Chevrolet Corvette. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Dylan Stalker of Long Beach, dressed as a combination of a spartan and Boba Fett, stands next to a giant Jabba the Hutt model. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Stryder Brown of Los Angeles is the Hip Hop Trooper, whose pumping music gets him dancing at the Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Retired Sidious," otherwise known as Delyn Murie, 74, of Riverside, uses his imperial walker to get around at Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Excitement rises among fans waiting for "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Participants in a Princess Leia look-alike contest compete before Carrie Fisher took the stage. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Contestants parade across the stage during the Princess Leia look-alike contest. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary, onstage during the "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher" event. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Carrie Fisher onstage during the "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher" event. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A youngster is prepared for a lightsaber fight as he walks through the dark shadows at the Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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"Star Wars" fans travel to their next destination at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Jessica Odell of Lisburn, Ireland, is dressed as Maris Broud from "The Force Unleashed" video game. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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William Teague of Austin, Texas. views dozens of Star Wars figures lined up in a display by the Kotobukiya company. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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In tattoo alley, artist Damian Cain of Britain shows off his Luke Skywalker tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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In tattoo alley, Vinny Romanelli of New York City gives Angela Byrd of Modesto an angelic R2D2 tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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In tattoo alley, David James of Arcadia shows off his Darth Nihilus work-in-progress tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Malcolm McNeil of Ventura takes part in the X-Wing Experience Star Wars Battlefront. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Robert Gomes of Walnut, Calif., is Darth Tannos in the Millennium Falcon scene. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Eric Cajiuat, of Fullerton, is Jedi Elvis in the Millennium Falcon scene. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Chandra Chang of Los Angeles poses as R2D2 Hello Kitty -- or R2Kitty -- in front of "The 20th Century Space Opera" oil on canvas by Robert Xavier Burden. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A fan takes photos of some of the extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the Rancho Obi-Wan Star Wars collection booth. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Jennifer Hobart, of Fullerton, creates her own Star Wars character with special contact lenses. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Calvin Heins, 12, of Los Angeles, wears a Jawa costume in front of a replica of the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A young girl readies her lightsaber as she walks though the shadows at the Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

More laughs at the expense of Daniels followed. There were outtakes from the “Star Wars” prequels that showed C-3PO crashing to the floor, and Daniels generated applause when he joked that the much-maligned prequels were a subject not to be discussed at Celebration. Daniels also relayed how the robot suit isn’t always a cozy fit, especially when worn in desert locations.

“If you’re wearing a 3PO suit and sand gets in there — and I mean gets in there everywhere — and you can’t get in and scratch or anything, it’s not a happy moment,” Daniels said. “Are you going to take me back to those days?”

A healthy amount of time was spent discussing regrettable “Star Wars” products, chief among them a ceramic tape dispenser in which C-3PO straddled the fastening material. “I immediately said, ‘Are you going to do the other one, a toilet paper dispenser? Are you going to buy that?’ Disney,” Daniels shouted, “I own the copyright on that idea!”

Daniels then brought out the now-infamous tape dispenser. “Does the word unattractive come to mind?” he asked the audience.

Over the course of “Star Wars” films, C-3PO has been beheaded, dismantled and had his eye socket ripped apart by a rat-like alien. But the panel showed that the robot has been just as versatile — and tortured — outside the films. Daniels mimed his way through hokey Christmas songs and told tales about using the C-3PO voice on his car navigational system. Daniels confessed he eventually got tired of hearing himself.

“I must admit,” he said, “I now use the generic voice. There’s time I want to get away from all this stuff.”

Anthony Daniels  poses with R2-D2, left, and "The Force Awakens" newcomer BB-8. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Anthony Daniels poses with R2-D2, left, and “The Force Awakens” newcomer BB-8. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

That won’t be happening anytime soon. Daniels regularly voices C-3PO in the animated “Star Wars” spin-offs and the character will again be featured in the upcoming seventh film in the core saga. For December’s “The Force Awakens,” Daniels told the crowd that director Abrams offered to let the actor off the hook, so to speak.

“I will tell you something. What J.J. said to me…. ‘Would you just like to do the voice?’ I said no. He said, ‘Quite right.'”

Daniels said filming “The Force Awakens” brought him back to the days he co-starred in the original trilogy. Unlike the George Lucas-helmed prequels, which relied heavily on digital effects and imaginary sets, Abrams shot “The Force Awakens” on location and had teams physically build as much of the “Star Wars” universe as possible.

Such a directorial choice benefited the actors, Daniels said. “We walked around the sets and it was the real ‘Star Wars,'” Daniels said. “It felt absolutely like going back how many years it was since ‘Jedi.’”

In “The Force Awakens,” however, Daniels admitted that a new droid other than C-3PO will win the hearts of fans. Daniels was referencing BB-8, an orange-hued robot that rolls around like a soccer ball. BB-8, said Daniels, is a technological marvel.

“It is absolutely stunning,” Daniels said. “In all of the ‘Star Wars’ creativity, I think that’s almost the best thing I have ever seen. I cannot tell you any more than that. Shortly, of course, you’ll be able to buy him in shops [at] Christmas, and you will because it’s magical. Eat your heart out, R2.”

Don’t, however, expect to be buying a full C-3PO suit.

“All the bits of gold are very, very hard to get, very expensive,” Daniels said. “I, on the other hand, am always available and very, very cheap.”

— Todd Martens

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Comments


2 Responses to Star Wars Celebration: Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

  1. Grammar Jedi says:

    It's spelled "C-3PO," not "C-3P0" (this article spells it with a zero.)

  2. trekkie says:

    Oh please dont start licensing crazy stuff like these toasters they made http://www.weseekr.com/tSvbao/star-wars-darth-toa

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