“STAR WARS: IN CONCERT,” L.A. LIVE NOKIA THEATRE, OCT. 7-8
Anthony Daniels is one of the most famous voices of the “Star Wars” franchise thanks to his zesty portrayal of the persnickety droid C-3PO. Now the British actor is also becoming a face of the franchise as the narrator of “Star Wars: In Concert,” which is touring arenas with more than 100 musicians, elaborate lighting and special effects, film props and, of course, the signature music of John Williams.
The tour just kicked off in Anaheim and this week it arrives in downtown L.A. at the Nokia Theatre. (You can find tour dates and ticket info here.) Hero Complex contributor Liesl Bradner caught up to Daniels; her interview is below. –Geoff Boucher
LB: What would the “Star Wars” movies would be like without John Williams’ music?
AD: I saw chunks of it in 1976 when I was dubbing my voice without sound. It wasn’t until George [Lucas] added a Stravinsky track that the scene came alive and suddenly you had a feeling about that particular scene. It echoed the loneliness and bleak setting of remote desert. Music is the absolute direct mouthpiece to your feelings and soul. It makes you feel something. It manipulates your feelings very quickly. I believe John Williams’ music in this case is within itself as much its own character as any of the other characters in “Star Wars.”
LB: Do you play any instruments?
AD: Sadly no. But I do appreciate the music. It’s so multilayered and every time I listen I notice how a new instrument struck me, like the trombone or piano.
LB: If “Star Wars” hadn’t come along, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
AD: It came out of nowhere. And I didn’t want the job at first. I wanted only to be on stage, a serious actor. But some force came over me and changed my mind. Here I am 33 years later. I never, ever dreamed I’d be on stage in front of 14,000 people. All I ever wanted to do was act.
LB: Are you disappointed the franchise never went forward past the death of Darth Vader in “Return of the Jedi”?
AD: Certainly not. I was very happy with the original film ending with the destruction of the death star.
LB: What was it like to wear the suit?
AD: I got better and better at putting it on and off. I could do it in five minutes. I’m glad those days are gone. I was in it for 33 years. Now I’m thrilled to be standing on a stage in a neat dress suit made of wool and silk.
LB: How do you feel knowing that the droids are the only characters who appear in all six films?
AD: Actually, I was the only [actor] to appear in all of them. R2-D2 became fully digital in the last two films. So there was a lot of green screen in those last two. It’s more fun to have someone there. The droids are prophetic characters that got pushed around.
LB: What’s your favorite among the films?
AD: The first [in 1977]. Because it had a simplicity and innocence. There were interesting characters and interesting situations and locations. A very direct and intelligent story.
LB: What would you say is the best part of the concert?
AD: That’s tough to say. It’s made up of parts. The sum is larger that the parts. The visual impact is palpable. The lighting, the scale of it, a three-story high LED with projected images. The arena was thrilled with the first note of music. It went straight into the “Star Wars” theme. From that moment on the audience was completely excited. Mouths were wide open.
LB: Does the symphony-type setting appeal to younger audiences?
AD: Most definitely. I met some people after the show and one was this 5-year-old boy dressed as Anakin, and I asked him what his favorite part of the show was and he said, “I liked the music — I really liked the violin.” Plus, there is the exhibit with the props and costumes which is fun for them.
LB: What do you hope people will take away from this experience?
AD: A completely new look from a different direction from something audiences know very well. Hopefully it will evoke feelings about when they first saw “Star Wars.” The story of faith, destiny, redemption and sin. People can revisit the movie and the music is synced live with images. John does a wonderful, rolling score of music that evokes classical styles and complements the movies. George asked him to write in this way. I hope that people will take away all sorts of elements of music and maybe they will venture to try Beethoven or Tchaikovsky or say, “Let’s go to a concert where musicians pick up wood and string and brass and make music.” The concert is a master class in showmanship and music.
– Liesl Bradner
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Photo credits: Anthony Daniels photo courtesy of the actor’s official website. ”Star Wars” still (showing Daniels as C-3PO with Mark Hamill and Alec Guinness) and cast photo both rom Lucasfilm.