Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker on C-3P0 and R2-D2's 25 years of hilarious hi-jinx.
(This story was originally published in issue 156 of Empire Magazine.)
Some C-3PO and R2-D2 banter you may be familiar with:
C-3PO: "Don't call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight blob of grease!"
R2-D2: "Beep-beep-phut-phut phut-beep."
Some you won't:
Daniels: "Frankly, I have no idea what Kenny's up to most of the time."
Baker: "Anthony isn't exactly the most approachable person I've worked with. He always just sits on his own with a bloody book."
Daniels: "There's this idea that we work together, but in truth we never do. I come in and do my bit, and he comes in later and sits in his box-thing."
Baker: "I'm not very expensive to hire, you see. Anthony is, but obviously that's because he's a gold robot."
Daniels: "There is, though, this myth that we don't get on. But the thing is that when you're talking to a magazine as sexy as Empire, you have to set the record straight."
It's precisely this sort of amiable bickering that has made Star Wars' most enduring pair also its most appealing thus far. Chalk and cheese, compared to these two stooges, are quite the perfect bed-fellows.
"This new generation of guys, your Ewans and Sams, are great," says Daniels. "And I adored Alec Guinness, Mark Hamill (okay, so his hairstyle offends a little today, but...) and Harrison Ford to bits. So that should tell you how much I think of this modern lot."
George isn't right 100 per cent of the time. God knows, we had the Ewoks.
By his own concession, said "modern lot" need not necessarily have included Baker, the 4' 1" Star Wars giant who is today all too aware of the threat of CGI. "I know they know that I know that they don't really need me," he smiles. "They could replace me for sure. But that's the kind of guy George is - he's a wonderful man who sticks by his colleagues." Hence six days inside the original suit ("It still has the bleedin' dead scorpions from Tunisia stuck in the bottom") on location in Australia.
"George isn't right 100 per cent of the time, though," says Daniels. "God knows, we had the Ewoks. And we had a bit of a tiff on... erm... this one (he continually forgets the title) about a line where C-3P0 was meant to say, 'How rude!' I said, 'That's a Jar Jar line.' George said, 'No, that's, "How wude,"' but then conceded it was close enough. Plus, I'm very excited here because not only does C-3P0 get to do something he's never, ever done before, but George let me and Ahmed Best (Jar Jar) be extras, too. You can spot me in the nightclub scene, stuck between two gorgeous girls. They were much taller than me in fact, so I had a great view."
For the record, as much as both have endless fond memories of the original trilogy - "On the first one some jokers plastered porn pictures all over the inside of R2's head," laughs Baker, "but sadly I couldn't focus on 'em properly because I went cross-eyed" - the future still shines bright. Even if Star Wars looks guaranteed to be the only epic saga to further require their services. "Well, I was Legolas in the animated The Lord Of The Rings, back in 1978," says Daniels. "And I had no idea he was a blond! If I'd have known, I'd have played him totally differently, maybe even with an Essex accent."
"I had no chance anyway," grumbles Baker. "Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in Jedi, is now an agent who's got this family of dwarves who all live together in Peterborough. Crafty buggers. They had all the Hobbits sewn up from square one."