Saturday, 11 January 2020


Author: Anthony Daniels
First Published: 2019
File size/Pages: 29249KB / 272pp
Ebook Publisher: DK
Ebook Date: October 2019

Something a little different for today's entry. A Christmas gift of the the inside story (pun intended I guess) of Anthony Daniels time as the golden Droid of the Star Wars franchise , C3PO. I do like to read non-fiction occasionally, and anything related to the movie business usually hits the mark, especially if it is science fiction movie-related to films I admire (I'd recommend checking out Future Noir, The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon, a fantastic book).

Because Daniels book contains some content about the recent film, The Rise of Skywalker, it looks like he had to wait till that film had been released in case any keen Star Wars fans were able to discern a plot line out of it. Alternatively you argue he has timed its release to perfectly align with what looks likely to be his last appearance in the Skywalker saga (I wouldn't bet on him appearing in some other Star Wars related events though - because this book reaffirms just how much Daniels has done over the past forty years and I can't see him stopping somehow).

There is something to be clear about before you consider buying this book. It is not an autobiography in the classic sense. This is an account of the actors time as C3PO in the franchise history so far. You do not get much, if at all anything, of Daniels non-Star Wars roles. You also will get an incredibly tiny amount of personal biography (which even surprised me, despite having seen him explain the content of the book on a light entertainment television programme in the UK during his promotional tour). There is a small amount in the first few chapters, as you get to understand how he ended up in the acting business, but the main thrust of the book is to highlight his time experiencing life as his Droid counterpart (if I can describe it that way). There are only a few occasions were a snippet falls through the cracks - for instance the one or two pieces of merchandise he has in his home.

In his introduction Mr Daniels explains that the book is written very much in the style of his own speaking voice, and might not look grammatically sound. It's the way he speaks, "so you'll have to like it or lump it" in other words. Personally I liked the way it was written, it feels like you are sitting opposite him at the dinner table or in a restaurant. I know some reviews online have expressed a negative point of view about this area, but my opinion is that it works for me and I enjoyed it. The book is also made up of many chapters on the shorter side, which enables a much faster read, which (in my own experience) keeps me reading for longer in single stretches. I finished the book more quickly than I might if that were not the case.

In his promotional interviews, Daniels said he would reveal things about his colleagues and the films that he hasn't said before in public. This is true, and he is quite frank about his own opinions (and others about the recent films) and his own feelings of what he has lived through. It was quite fascinating to hear what the man who played C3PO really thinks about Harrison Ford, George Lucas, The Prequels, Richard Marquand, Kenny Baker and the secrecy and reception surrounding the current Disney sequels. He was there, on set, and his observations are very interesting. I particularly liked his candour when explaining his relationship with Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 when required, and I also liked reading about his thoughts on Ford.

But the most interesting parts of the book for me were the parts were Daniels goes into detail about his experience of wearing the C3PO suit, the toll it took on him physically and mentally; being able to see a very narrow field of vision whilst having to hit his marks and avoid other members of the cast or the set - or even misbehaving radio-controlled little Droids. These paint a very claustrophobic picture. Its to his credit that he appears to have had only a few panic attacks - his obsession with avoiding injury through falling over in the restrictive body-casing becomes a recurring theme.

For me, the most moving aspect of I Am C3PO, is the period of time after the launch of Star Wars in  1977. His description of the overwhelming feeling of disappointment and abandonment was very affecting. I felt a lot of empathy as he describes his emotional state (anger, frustration etc.) when he would have to sit and watch or listen to the main cast (Ford, Fisher, Hamill) enjoying the fame and admiration of its success, while he and others were treated as if they didn't exist as actors. Did Lucasfilm want us to believe C3PO was real? It clearly felt like that to Daniels. But as an eleven year old in 1977, I can honestly say, even at that age, I knew there was an actor in there.

Through the course of the book, Daniels covers all of the main cast, and also many many of the crew and production team, his admiration (or not) for them shines through. He gives a lot of credit and thanks to his assistants and the effects people who developed the suit, despite the necessary pain and discomfort he had to endure, they clearly were trying their best to make his time as comfortable as possible.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was a fast and informative read. If you want to get the inside story, it certainly delivers. There is stuff in here that I had not read about before. Recommended to fans of Star wars or movie history. The book is readily available in eBook format. The price might be a bit steep for some, so go for the hardback (or wait for the paperback version) if its too much for your pocket.