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Anthony Daniels Biography

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Birth Name: Anthony Daniels
Born: 02/21/1946
Birth Place: Salisbury, England, GB

Born Anthony Kingsley Daniels on Feb. 21, 1946 in Salisbury, England, Daniels became interested in drama while attending the Giggleswick middle school in Yorkshire. His parents, however, viewed acting as an unstable profession and urged their son to consider a more practical field of endeavor. To this end, the dutiful son enrolled for a time in law school, before pursuing a career in the hospitality industry. Finding his studies at management school less than satisfying, Daniels discovered a creative outlet with a local Manchester amateur dramatic society. Encouraged by a supportive theater instructor, and armed with a recent bequest left to him by a relative, he enrolled in acting school and fully committed to the craft that he so enjoyed. After three years at University, where he focused on mime performance and radio, Daniels won the prestigious Carlton Hobbs Radio Award in 1974, which granted him entry into the BBC Drama Repertory Company. There he took part in hundreds of radio drama productions before leaving for theater work. It was a role as a teenager in the play "Forget-Me-Not Lane" that elicited an offer to join the National Theatre at the Young Vic, where he appeared in such Shakespearean classics as "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Macbeth."

While performing in a mounting of Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," Daniels was invited to meet with a young director named George Lucas, who was going to be filming a science-fiction movie in England. It was thought that the actor's training as a mime and voice work on radio would make him the ideal candidate for a role Lucas had in mind. Considering himself to be a serious stage actor and never a fan of the genre - years earlier, Daniels had walked out of a screening of "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) - he politely declined. Thankfully, Daniels' agent knew better and convinced his client to take the meeting. The actor met with the energetic young director whose script, then titled "The Adventures of Luke Starkiller," he found nearly incomprehensible. However, it was the concept art rendered by legendary matte artist Ralph McQuarrie that depicted an elegant, yet oddly sad golden robot that ultimately convinced Daniels to accept the role. Cast as protocol droid C-3PO - or, alternately, See-Threepio - the actor immediately began the grueling process of creating the iconic costume by being covered from head to toe in body plaster; an ordeal later described as an "extremely unlovely experience" by the always tactful Daniels.

By his own account, Daniels was given little direction as an actor during the filming of "Star Wars" (1977), as Lucas - a director never known for his aptitude in eliciting nuanced performances from his actors - was increasingly preoccupied with various production difficulties and perfecting the film's ground-breaking special effects. It was the great Sir Alec Guinness who stepped in to offer words of encouragement and advice for the novice film actor. Despite the lack of communication with his director, Daniels got on well with co-stars, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, all of whom bonded over the myriad of physical difficulties presented throughout filming. Particularly troublesome for Daniels was the fact that the Threepio suit prevented him from sitting, necessitating his having to rest by reclining against a board during breaks. The actor spent months researching the jaunty, English butler-like voice he employed for his role. Initially pleased with the result, in post-production Lucas became disenchanted with Daniels' work and began casting about for an actor to re-dub the voice. Lucas eventually came around to the realization that Daniels' vocal intonations and cadence synchronized perfectly with the physical performance. Much to his relief, the actor was asked to provide the voiceover for his character in the finished film.

To the amazement of nearly all involved, "Star Wars" not only became a huge success at the box office, but a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Initially, Daniels was denied his moment in the sun due to the studio's insistence that the presence of an actor inside the costume not be divulged to maintain the illusion that Threepio was indeed an actual android. Disillusioned by the experience, the actor considered removing himself from further participation in the series until Lucas - now an ardent Daniels supporter - worked to resolve the situation and Daniels' identity was at last revealed to the world. After voicing the character of Legolas in Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" (1978), Daniels went on to imbue C-3PO with his unique brand of humanity for the smash-hit sequels, "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983). Being such an integral part of the Star Wars universe afforded Daniels a plethora of opportunities, some of which included appearances as Threepio on episodes of "The Muppet Show" (syndicated, 1976-1981), "Sesame Street" (PBS, 1969- ) and even a short-lived animated spin-off, "Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO" (ABC, 1985-86).

Daniels was later recruited to voice C-3PO as part of the Disneyland "Star Tours" theme park attraction, which opened to public in 1987. After guest spots on British comedy series like "Three Up, Two Down" (BBC, 1985-89) and "Singles" (Thames TV, 1988-1991), the theatrically-trained actor gamely picked up a role as a priest in "I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle" (1990), a schlocky horror-comedy about a possessed motorbike with a taste for vengeance and blood. In the mid-1990s, he continued to diversify his acting endeavors with dramatic appearances in such made-for-TV movies as the acclaimed Helen Mirren police procedural, "Prime Suspect: Inner Circle" (ITV, 1995) and "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Attack of the Hawkmen" (syndicated, 1995), another Lucasfilm project. Meanwhile, Daniels kept busy writing his "Wonder Column" for the official fanzine, Star Wars Insider and worked as a producer and creative designer on exhibitions that included Dubai's The Encounter Zone and Singapore's Volcanoland. In 1997, the multi-talented actor employed his vast knowledge of "Star Wars" to pen a graphic novel for Dark Horse Comics, The Protocol Offensive, which found Threepio and his pint-sized companion, Detoo, saving the planet of Tahlboor.

When at last the long-awaited "Star Wars" prequels arrived in theaters, Daniels revived C-3PO for "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999), much to the delight of the franchise's devoted fans. Although reaction to the finished product was decidedly mixed, there would be no shortage of "Star Wars" films in Daniels' future. He returned as the golden automaton for both "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005). With the release of the latter, Daniels enjoyed the distinction of joining Kenny Baker (R2-D2) as the only two actors to appear in all six of the "Star Wars" films. Of additional interest was the fact that it was his character who spoke both the opening line in the original 1977 film and the final line in the last entry (at the time) of the theatrical franchise in 2005. Far from done with the character, he provided Threepio's voice for the animated series "Star Wars: Clone Wars" (Cartoon Network, 2003-05) and its continuation "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (Cartoon Network, 2008- ). In 2009, Daniels performed as narrator for "Star Wars: In Concert," a nation-wide symphonic tour featuring a full orchestra performing the iconic John Williams score, accompanied by key film footage specifically edited for the production.

By Bryce Coleman