‘Star Wars’: Anthony Daniels’ C-3PO Costume Was Created By Covering His Entire Body in a Plaster Mold — ‘They Shove Straws Up Your Nose So That They Can Model Your Head’
C-3PO is widely regarded as one of Star Wars’ most iconic characters. His intriguing look and offbeat comic relief worked wonders for George Lucas’ franchise.
Yet, despite how seamless C-3PO’s presence in Star Wars may seem, designing the character’s costume was quite a task. Actor Anthony Daniels had to have his entire body covered in plaster, just so the production team could create a costume that fit him.
C-3PO’s was based on a character from ‘Metropolis’ movie
C-3PO is one of the funniest and most memorable characters in Star Wars. His unique design, glimmery aesthetic, and robotic motions make him a fan favorite across several generations.
However, many viewers don’t know that the concept of C-3PO was actually inspired by an android in another film, Metropolis. Daniels explained the origin of C-3PO during a recent interview with WIRED.
“The concept of the character was actually based on a film from way back in time, Metropolis, by Fritz Lang. And in that film, the powers that be created a fake human to try and encourage the workers to behave. And Goerge had Ralph McQuarrie create something similar. The similarity would be that neither of us, the original actor or myself, could actually move in these costumes very well.”
The C-3PO costume was created from a plaster mold of Anthony Daniels’ body
Although Daniels wasn’t initially interested in joining the Star Wars team, his mind changed when he was introduced to C-3PO. He knew Lucas was onto something special, and decided to sign on.
When Daniels agreed to join the Star Wars cast, he had to have a custom costume made just for him. He ended up having to go to a production studio to have his entire body covered in plaster.
“When I read the script, I really liked C-3PO,” Daniels admitted. “So I was very, very happy to go the next day to Elstree Studios in North London and be cast for the part. And I don’t mean, ‘Did I get the part,’ no. I mean that I was actually covered in plaster to make a mold of my body that would be the frame to make the actual robot suit.”
Despite Daniels’ enthusiasm for the role, getting him fitted for his costume wasn’t very fun. He was forced to breathe through straws as the design team covered his head in a mold.
“Well, I have to tell you that being cast in plaster is not something I would recommend, especially the bit where they shove straws up your nose so that they can model your head.”
Designing the C-3PO costume was a lengthy process
As one would imagine designing Daniels’ costume was a long, tedious process.
“Eventually, there in the studio was my figure in white plaster with very little clothing on. It wasn’t a pretty sight. But, then came along Liz Moore, the sculptor. Over the next few weeks, Liz began to cover my white body with gray modeling clay. And she built up the shape that you eventually see in the finished figure.
Sculpting Daniels’ process was literally hands-on, as the production crew would often test out different pieces of the costume on him.
“All these little lines and curlicues and shapes were a reference to that Fritz Lang movie. I’d be in the studio most days and they’d try out a new piece on me. It might be an arm, or a leg, or a neck, or a head, or something. And sometimes they were paper prototypes, sometimes they were made of plastic, thin plastic.”