ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

I've always thought C-3PO was very outspoken for a droid who specialized in the subtle social interactions between people, and now it seems like the actor who played him, Anthony Daniels, also isn't afraid to be a bit outspoken.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Daniels, who has played or voiced C-3PO in all of his on screen incarnations, explained how important it was to him to actually be in the suit while playing 3PO. Indeed, he even went so far as to describe his CGI stand-in in the prequel trilogy as 'awful'. See what he said below:

J.J Abrams baited Daniels with a dishonest question:

I will tell you that when [director] J.J. Abrams rang me to ask about filming Episode VII, one of the first things he said after he told me how wonderful I was — and that didn’t take long — but he then said, “Would you be interested in being in the film just doing the voice?” I said, “No,” and he said, “Right!” He knew I’d say that. There’s no way I would just do the voice. I also said that it can’t be the same suit. I will tell you that the team then got together and built a new suit. They made an entirely new look-a-like with changes that you will never notice [on screen] that made my life a lot easier. I can get it on and off very quickly.

Why a CGI C-3PO just doesn't work

[During the prequels], the only time [Threepio has] been CG was when it was very dangerous [to act in the scene in a suit] — and it wasn’t very good. In fact, I’m going to say it was awful. One of the difficulties is with a character that you know and love so well is that, as a member of the audience, you go, “Oh no, that’s not right. No, he doesn’t move like that.” With me [in the suit], he’s always going to move the same way and have the same reactions, timing, and so on. With CG, you’re working with some brilliant person on the keyboard who is trying to pretend to be me.

The only time a CGI C-3PO ever worked was for a theme park ride?

The only time that has worked without doubt is Disney’s Star Tours: The Adventures Continue [theme park ride]. There’s an element in the pre-show which is digital and I cannot tell it’s not me. It’s brilliantly done by Disney. In a cartoon series like Rebels, you accept it because it’s not trying to pretend to be reality. It’s an extension, it’s an exaggeration. On that basis, it’s utterly acceptable — providing the characterization is correct.

If you were brought up during the period of the Star Wars prequels, you probably didn't even notice the change from the live-action to CGI C-3PO. Indeed, vast portions of these movies were almost completely CGI anyway. However, for fans of the original trilogy, the change was quite jarring.

For the new upcoming trilogy, [Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158) has hired CGI-motion-capture expert Andy Serkis and his motion capture studio to handle CGI duties. With Serkis heading things, perhaps the CGI in the new trilogy can be less obvious than we've seen previously?

Let's take a look at some of these scenes below.

C-3PO as CGI in Drone Factory scene in Attack of the Clones (apologies for the quality)

Now compare that to this lengthy compilation of C-3PO scenes

Could you notice the difference? Does C-3PO always need to a guy in a suit? Let us know below.


What's your opinion of a CGI C-3PO?



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