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Anthony Daniels, a giant Lego C-3PO and me.

Christine Savage

Perhaps it was the will of the Force. In the wake of seeing Star Wars:


Daniels' book guides you through his years playing the beloved Star Wars protocol droid.

Penguin Random House

"Are you … Anthony Daniels?" I asked the slight, silver-haired man standing next to me at a coffee dock.

"Some people say I am," he responded in a tone my tired brain read as slightly wary.

Managing to play it cool, I told the 74-year-old that I'd thoroughly enjoyed his book. We chatted briefly and exchanged email addresses before he went off on a hike with wife Christine Savage.

I'm a major Star Wars fan, and the delightful, unexpected encounter was enough to leave me buzzed. But a few weeks later, I realized that journalistic duty demanded I ask him to sit down for an interview, which he agreed to, at his London home.

So on a rainy afternoon in early March, shortly before the city locked down, the couple greeted me warmly in their marble hallway. Daniels offered me tea -- yes, there is something quite surreal about the man behind C-3PO serving a beverage. He prefers a strong cup of the English Breakfast variety, with some milk. He also presented me with a plate of Marks & Spencers All Butter Stem Ginger Cookies, his favorites, as we sat down.

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In their well-lit, tastefully decorated home, Daniels and I chatted about working on The Rise of Skywalker (which hits on Monday), revisiting his 43-year career
to write his book, his favorite jobs and whether or not Threepio could ever exist.

The Rise of Skywalker

Christine Savage and Daniels attend The Rise of Skywalker's London premiere last December -- after which Daniels told director J.J. Abrams he'd slept through most of his initial viewing.

Dave Benett/WireImage via Getty

"I will tell you a secret," the actor says with sheepish mirth, before recounting the first time he saw the final movie in the Skywalker Saga last December.

Exhausted after months of traveling for his book-signing tour and promoting the film, he caught a "minor bug" and was hit with a bout of laryngitis while in Los Angeles. A car whisked him and Savage to director J.J. Abrams' screening room, where they joined Daniels' cast mates in a few glasses of "medicinal" wine and watched the first 20 minutes of the movie.

"And [I] fell deeply, deeply asleep," he said. "J.J.'s viewing theater is gorgeously comfortable, it's just wonderful. Too comfortable -- I was exhausted. Christine woke me up just before the end."

Daniels felt crushingly guilty as he dozed in the car ride back across LA, but he thought his 40 winks had gone largely unnoticed.

"It was only after the premiere in London -- when I avidly watched [the film] all the way through -- that I admitted to J.J. that I'd fallen asleep at his screening," he said. " 'I know,' he told me, with a laugh."

I told him how my girlfriend was basically in tears over C-3PO's newly iconic line -- "Taking one last look, sir, at my friends" -- as he prepares to sacrifice himself with a factory reset at the hands of droidsmith Babu Frik (a character Daniels "adores").

"You can tell her I was too," he responded with a warm smile. "I found it very moving on the set and to actually watch it."

He credits Abrams and his screenwriting partner Chris Terrio for the line itself, and editors Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube for adding emotional weight by cutting to Daisy Ridley's and John Boyega's reactions. "I just said the script -- but I said it nicely!" CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo also broached this topic when she spoke to Daniels a few weeks ago.

C-3PO and Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Daniels loved how dismissive Poe Dameron was of Threepio.


But other small moments of friendship were cut from the finished film.

"Particularly with Poe, [who was] just deliciously played by Oscar Isaac. He was so dismissive of Threepio," Daniels said. "And I would just laugh every time in rehearsal because Oscar would say it just so -- not cruelly or rudely -- you just got his frustration with his comrade."

I suggested that it'd be amazing to actually hear all the lines cut from the movie and -- in one of the interview's wilder moments -- Daniels pulled out his iPhone, on which he'd recorded some dialogue for the film. It was a glimpse of the moviemaking process in our hyperconnected world.


BB-8: Faster than Threepio.


From the iPhone Threepio's voice yells, "Slow down, I am not as fast as a ball," presumably remarking on a moment when he failed to keep pace with fellow droid BB-8.

I also heard a few iterations of expository lines that didn't make it.

"This message has been sent as a warning to the Resistance. Palpatine … Palpatine lives, and is now in league with Kylo Ren," Threepio said, his prim and proper voice tinged with suitable graveness. "Palpatine and Kylo Ren are now poised to deploy the legendary Sith armada."