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Anthony Daniels saved the Millennium Falcon from being destroyed: ‘I didn't want it to cease to exist’

The C-3PO star rescued the prop after filming had finished on the original trilogy

Anthony Daniels has given his personal collection of Star Wars memorabilia to the Propstore, who are selling it at auction. (LucasFilm/Illustration Yahoo News)
Anthony Daniels has given his personal collection of Star Wars memorabilia to the Propstore, who are selling it at auction. (LucasFilm/Illustration Yahoo News)

Anthony Daniels saved the Millennium Falcon from being destroyed in a bonfire, and now Star Wars fans can own a piece of it as the actor has given his personal collection to Propstore for auction.

The C-3PO actor tells Yahoo UK that when filming finished on Return of the Jedi in 1983 — then believed to be the final film in the franchise — he found crew members burning the prop in order to save on space.

“I was wandering out there, just to get out the studio, and there was this mouldering bonfire and I went over and they told me, ‘yeah we're burning it. We're getting rid of the Millennium Falcon.’

“They said, ‘well, it's too big to store’, and this is why a lot of movie props just get thrown away or destroyed... back in the day I'm afraid they used to burn stock and so I just yanked these out of the fire.

“I didn't want the Millennium Falcon to cease to exist.”Anthony Daniels

He jokes: “Of course, I wasn't to know that we would appear in six other films. But I was fond of the vehicle itself, there's something about it that took us on our adventures."

Letting go of C-3PO

Anthony Daniels with the screen matched light-up C-3PO head from his personal collection that is being sold by the Propstore (Propstore)
Anthony Daniels personal collection included a screen matched light-up C-3PO head, which sold for £687,500 at auction. (Propstore)

Daniels saved a number of items and props from his time on Star Wars, all of which (bar one item: a life-size Lego model of C-3PO) he has given to the Propstore as a curated collection.

Items include the head of the droid he wore in A New Hope, which sold for £687,500 on 9 November, signed trading cards, bits of the set featured in the original film, and even pieces of blue carpet from the prequel trilogy.

These will be sold by the Propstore between 9 and 12 November in one of the world's largest auctions of TV and film memorabilia.

One item, the actor amusingly reveals, ended up in his possession not entirely by accident.

Anthony Daniels as C-3PO (Credit: Lucasfilm)
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, the actor has said he is "ready to let go" of the items he has gathered over the years from the films (Lucasfilm)

“There's a photo of me and George Lucas and I cannot remember what we were doing, I was in the suit and of course no idea what's near me, I have no vision," he explains.

“I did feel a nudge and then [heard] a tinkle on the floor and when I went back afterwards I found a tiny piece of the Death Star.

“I just put in my pocket before anybody noticed, you know, a ‘whoops’ moment.”Anthony Daniels

The reason Daniels has decided to work with the Propstore now is because he is “ready to let go” — not of his beloved character, but the items he procured along the way during his long journey with the franchise.

“I thought, well, If I'm going to do this it’s all or nothing,” he says.

“He, in a way, encapsulates everything about Star Wars, from the characters to merchandise, and the things people have in their own home.

Anthony Daniels with an original third-draft script from the 1977 film 'Star Wars: A New Hope' (estimated £10,000 - 20,000) as he poses for a photograph alongside other pieces of Star Wars memorabilia from his personal collection, during a preview for the showbiz memorabilia auction, at the Propstore in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Picture date: Wednesday September 20, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Items from the auction include an original third-draft script from the 1977 film 'Star Wars: A New Hope' and other pieces of Star Wars memorabilia from his personal collection. (Getty Images)

"I think I realised that all the objects that I gathered over the years —and not in the collecting sense, it's just you have stuff and you put it in a drawer— it wasn't being respected after all.

"I thought, well, this is doing nobody any good and there are fans out there who… can have something if they want.

“For me, these have become objects rather than part of my life, and the memories really are there so I don't need the objects.”

Making Star Wars was a ‘lonely’ experience

British actor Anthony Daniels (who plays C-3PO) with American director, screenwriter and producer George Lucas on the set of his movie Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthony Daniels with George Lucas on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which Daniels described as being a 'lonely' experience. (Getty Images)

Daniels is the only Star Wars actor to have appeared in every movie of the franchise so far, but when he first stepped out as the soft-spoken C-3PO for A New Hope he found himself having a rather hard time on set.

“It was difficult because I was in a world of my own, I mean literally locked in where mostly what I could hear was my own clanking sounds coming up from all parts of my body into that helmet,” he reflects.

“I was in this weird world of my own and I think, not to boast, but I think pure professionalism took over.

“‘Oh well, I've agreed. I've signed a contract with this, I’m in the middle of the desert, there's nothing I can do about getting out of this ghastly situation.’”

British actors Anthony Daniels, Alec Guinness and American Mark Hamill on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Daniels said he would often be left in his C-3PO suit because it took so long to put on, so he didn't spend much time with his co-stars (Getty Images)

“Then, of course, coming back out of the desert to Elstree Studios, where — until a couple of years ago — it was the hottest summer in history and I was in that suit in a studio where all the lamps used to make a huge amount of heat. [It’d] kill me now to do that.

“So I had a a unique experience, quite the lonely one I have to say because I couldn't relax and go for a coffee with Mark [Hamill] or Carrie [Fisher] or Harrison [Ford].Anthony Daniels

“When they said cut I often would be left in the suit just because it took so long to put on, so to see it here in bits in the [Propstore] catalogue reminds me of the not so pleasant side.

“But, of course, looking at the face created by sculptor Liz Moore, it's still the most beautiful piece of sculpture, I think.”

la guerre des étoiles Star Wars 1977 réal : George Lucas   Anthony Daniels   collection christophel © lucas film / walt Disney
Anthony Daniels on the set of A New Hope in 1977, which had scenes filmed in the desert which the actor found difficult and said would 'kill [him] now'. (LucasFilm)

There are good memories he attributes to the items at the auction, though, like his old scripts that have his handwritten notes all over them.

“I am notorious for rewriting the script which George used to get a little annoyed about,” he admits.

“But in the end it worked, and sometimes when you're watching a finished scene you have the ability to change things slightly. That's a bit I enjoy.”

Returning for Ahsoka and looking to the future

ANTHONY DANIELS AS C-3PO, GEORGE LUCAS, STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES, 2002
Anthony Daniels is the only actor to have appeared in every Star Wars film to date (Alamy)

The actor’s most recent stint in Star Wars was a cameo in the Disney+ series Ahsoka, which came as a delightful surprise to fans.

In the scene, C-3PO arrives at a counsel hearing about Hera Syndulla’s actions in helping Ahsoka, which saw her go rogue and go against direct orders.

C-3PO, in a way, saves the day as he arrives as an emissary of Leia Organa who says she is the one who gave Hera permission to go on the rogue mission. While the late Fisher was obviously unable to appear as Leia, it keeps the characters spirit alive within the franchise.

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm's STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
The actor recently made a surprise cameo in Ahsoka (LucasFilm)

A sentiment that Daniels agrees with: “I got a phone call from Dave Filoni saying what he wanted to do, and [it’s] exactly that.

“He wanted a bit of real, old-fashioned Star Wars, and he wanted to have Princess Leia there but because that's not possible anymore he'd come up with this.”

Daniels reveals the cameo was originally a “pretty empty little scene” but he and Filoni worked together to rework the script so that it was “much more fun” and included a subtle Easter egg to his past.

“[There’s] him being barred entry, and him saying 'you don't need to see my identification'. Then I stole the line that I actually wrote for one of the prequels,” he reveals.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones  Year : 2002 USA  Director : George Lucas  Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker Shooting picture
Anthony Daniels said he "ripped off" himself in a scene from the Star Wars prequels, the actor is pictured on the set of Episode II - Attack of the Clones in 2002 (Alamy)

“Where Anakin comes along and C-3PO goes ‘how may I be of service?’ and Anakin says, 'C-3PO?' I explained to George it’d be much better if he said ‘I am C-3PO’ and so I got the judge in this case to do the same thing.”

“I don’t think anybody noticed that I ripped myself off,” he jokes.

Having been in every Star Wars film to date, Daniels has a unique perspective on the franchise’s future.

“There was a time when we wrapped on Episode Four, I thought that was it, and, frankly, it would be a great experience.”Anthony Daniels

“Then, of course, it opened and with no publicity the fans, the audiences just took it and ran with it, and it went viral.

C3PO (Anthony Daniels), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS:  EPISODE IX.
The actor said his final goodbye on the set of The Rise of Skywalker (pictured) was particularly hard because he feels he "won't be around" for other Star Wars films (LucasFilm)

“But I had said goodbye at the end of that first film, so now we made Episode Five and then Six. And I thought, right, well, goodbye.

“Then we made One, Two and Three, and I went ‘goodbye’, and then of course, [we made] Seven, Eight and Nine.

"I will admit, saying goodbye on that last day on the set was really quite a lump in the throat time, if you know what I mean, because I knew that, as far as major films would go, I really feel I won't be around long enough to to be there."

USA.Anthony Daniels as C-3PO in a scene from the (C)Twentieth Century Fox film: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) .  Plot: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.  Ref: LMK110-J7164-080621  Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Daniels said he feels the franchise will continue to go to bigger and better places but feels that one day a "new kid on the block will come" and change the industry like they did (LucasFilm)

He adds: “The world of Star Wars, the Galaxy that George wrote about, has many places to go, and it's down to the invention of the producers and people like Dave Filoni to think ‘hey we could go and explore this character’”

"I, of course, enjoy Episodes Four, Five and Six the most because I'm old fashioned and I was there at the beginning, but there are now people who have pretty much only grown up on Ahsoka and so on, and they will carry that torch as long as they want.

“Until some new kid comes on the block, at some point that's gonna happen and everybody else goes towards the new thing.”

The Propstore's film and TV memorabilia auction, which includes items from Anthony Daniels' collection, takes place 9 to 12 November, and registration is open at propstore.com.

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