This ‘Star Wars’ Actor Said His Experience After The First Film Was ‘Painful’

Anthony Daniels pops up in two roles in The Rise of Skywalker: One is C-3PO as usual, but he also shows his face in a cameo near the end. Indeed, Daniels has been with Star Wars for so long that the cameo isn’t even the first time he showed his real face. 

Along with George Lucas, Anthony Daniels is the only name to appear in all nine Skywalker saga films, plus the two Star Wars Story movies. He’s come a long way since 1977, when he thought he’d made a one-and-done movie and had very little to show for it.

The first movie was the best and worst for Anthony Daniels

The cast of The Rise of Skywalker
The cast of The Rise of Skywalker | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Nobody imagined Star Wars would have a fiftieth of the impact it did when it was being filmed in the mid-70s, least of all Daniels, who seemed to be made to suffer wearing his costume while trudging through the Tunisian desert. He recently gave an interview to the Associated Press, describing his experiences back then.

Asked what his most memorable time was, he replied:

“In the desert on the first episode. It was absolutely riveting. It had such an impact. Seeing the effect of people looking at me in the costume then seeing their reactions. You are the center of attention. They can’t see you, but you’re absorbing the energy. That was pretty intense. That stays with me.”

And yet, just like the Force, fame had a dark side too. Because he wasn’t known for his face, he didn’t get the kind of recognition that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher got. Perhaps that could be a blessing in disguise, as intense as Star Wars fandom eventually got, but in that first rush of fame, Daniels said, “that was a painful experience that lasted quite a while.”

Has Daniels done anything besides C-3PO?

Daniels hadn’t done much credited work before he auditioned for Star Wars. IMDb only lists two credits before that: episodes of Jackanory Playhouse and Centre Play. Once he’d completed Star Wars, he thought that would be the only time he’d have to wear all that metal. 

“At the end of A New Hope, the original film, I thought that was it. Twelve weeks of weird and difficult work. Not entirely wonderful. I thought that was it. Then they came and said, “Let’s make another one, then another.” … So I’ve been swept along by forces beyond my control,” he said. 

One of his only notable non-Star Wars credits was voicing the role of Legolas in the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings. So even there he wasn’t showing his face. However, he did have cameos out of costume in Attack of the Clones, as a patron inside a club, and in The Rise of Skywalker as one the gunners in the battle towards the end.

So he’s become one of the few actors to cameo more than once, in addition to appearing in all nine episodes. 

How Daniels looks at fame now

Star Wars-level fame has its ups and downs for Daniels. Sometimes it can be as exhausting as it is gratifying. He recently told Variety that he never again wants to be asked the simple question, “What’s it like?” 

Maybe that’s because he’s already recounted his story in the memoir I am C-3PO: The Inside Story. In it, he notes that he and Threepio had some things in common: “The poor creature was always out of his depth – always in the wrong place and battered by events beyond his control … I was hooked. Forget it was sci-fi. Forget Luke and Han and Vader. Threepio was the one for me.”

So battered was he that he had his mind wiped more than once. So beloved is his character that even the mere threat of his non-existence prompted concern when the Rise of Skywalker trailers came out.

Threepio may have problems holding onto his memories, but fans will never have any problem holding on to memories of Daniels.