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Anthony Daniels talks about being C-3PO, narrating 'Star Wars in Concert'

Joy Tipping
The Dallas Morning News (MCT)

DALLAS — Seeing him stroll by, you'd never guess that this slightly built, charmingly demure British actor starred in six of the most successful movies of all time. He isn't mobbed in the lobby. No one does a double take or stares as he walks in for an interview.

But then he does it: the voice. Demonstrating how he "builds the character vocally," he starts at the diaphragm with a deep murmur, then sort of works his voice up, up, up to his vocal cords, where it bursts forth, impossibly clipped and prissy: "Hello, miss! How can I help you?"

Just like that, Anthony Daniels becomes "Star Wars'" C-3PO.

"He's a sensitive, kindly, devoted servant, living in a world with none of those elements, where it's all chaos and peril and inhumanity," Daniels says. "That leads to his neurosis, which leads to the physical tension, which leads to the voice."

Daniels, 63, visited recently on a promotional tour for "Star Wars in Concert." The show, with a choir and full symphony orchestra led by Mark Watters, performing John Williams' music from the films, features footage from the films with Daniels narrating the story live.

"It's the entire story in short form," he says. If you've somehow missed the movies, he assures, "It's everything you need to know to bluff your way through a cocktail party."

Daniels says he's thrilled to be part of the show, although at first he was skeptical about the spectacle. He calls the show "magical, a whole new way of looking at the story, a tapestry woven from all the movies. ...The effect is something like huge hands are coming out at you, picking you up and giving you the story. The music, the effects, the lighting — it's like a beautiful, incredibly moving dance."

The show first played in April at the O2 arena in London, where the stunned cast and crew were greeted with standing ovations. "That's just unheard of in England," Daniels says. "It's considered over the top, something that American tourists do."

Daniels doesn't wear a C-3PO costume; he'll be in a "very elegant Canali suit from Rodeo Drive," he says with a grin. And although he's glad to be associated with this tour, he says, at one point in his career he considered giving up C-3PO. "I thought I should go off and do something serious and intellectual, you know, impress my friends and family. But then daylight came, common sense took over. I can't desert him. He's been my best friend for a very long time."

After a concert, he says, everyone onstage is exhausted, and he suspects the audience will be, too. "It's more intense than the movies. ... it'll be overwhelming. It'll be two hours of concert and 20 years of memories."

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