Even C-3PO Will Forgo CGI in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

"There's no way I would just do the voice," actor Anthony Daniels explains

Anthony Daniels has been talking about what brought him back to the role of C-3PO in next year’s Star Wars: Episode VII, and surprisingly, it was the fact that he’d be wearing the costume again.

“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,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly, adding, “There’s no way I would just do the voice.”

His reasoning had nothing to do with a desire to be encased in the full-body costume (he did say that he also told Abrams that he wouldn’t wear the old costume; “they made an entirely new look-a-like [suit] with changes that you will never notice that made my life a lot easier,” he explained), and everything to do with fidelity to the character.

In the prequel trilogy, Daniels said, he was replaced by a CGI Threepio “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.”

Daniels believes the problem lies in CGI’s inability to re-create the smaller things. “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 actor told the magazine.

Daniels’ desire to keep things low-tech continues a trend for the new movies. Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson has said that the new movies will rely less on CG than the prequels, while Abrams himself has teased full-scale vehicles and alien costumes in updates from the set. (Not that fans needed any help finding the vehicles, it turned out.)

At this rate, we shouldn’t be surprised if all the sound effects in Episode VII turn out to be Abrams and friends saying “pchoo pchoo” into a microphone. (Hey, maybe that’s what Greg Grunberg is doing for the new movie…)