C-3PO star Anthony Daniels has shared his experience filming the original Star Wars Holiday Special.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is out now on Disney+, and needless to say, it is an absolutely huge departure from the original Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. For one, it’s done entirely via animated LEGO characters. But additionally, the tone and execution of the new special are far from the intergalactic space-show act that the original one was.
Needless to say, we here at Dork Side of the Force fell in love with the new holiday special from LEGO, and you can read our review here. But it’s not just we who were impressed. Long-time Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels also feels that way, and he has the best judgment among all of us — because he’s starred in both specials.
We were able to attend a virtual press conference with Daniels, who was promoting the new holiday special, and he made it clear in his answers that the new LEGO special is doing a lot to clear the “holiday special” name for Star Wars. Make no mistake, Daniels seems to be on the side of most fans (and even George Lucas himself) when it comes to the original. And if you thought watching it was cringe-worthy, just imagine having to star in it. According to Daniels, “filming it on the set in L.A. was a dismal, dismal experience.” And that, he said, was ironic, considering Life Day (the holiday celebrated in the Star Wars special) was supposed to be a festive time for Wookiees and the people of the galaxy.
He recalled his filming experience in the press conference, saying:
"Every religion has its festival days and Life Day is for the Wookies. And there we were meant to be celebrating this event, and there’s Mark [Hamill] and Carrie [Fisher] and Harrison [Ford] and me in this very dark, basically black drapes. It was like a funeral. It was dreadful. And then you watched it and you thought, “I didn’t realize it was as dreadful as that.” Well, it was."
Of course, due to that experience over 40 years ago, Daniels had quite the reaction to doing another one in 2020. But, as he later found out, it would be wildly different. Here’s what he had to say about that:
"So when the producers came to me and said, “We’re going to make a holiday special,” I laughed. But as you will find out, it’s very, very different and it’s charming and it’s LEGO that I adore. And 3PO has seen all sorts of things over the years. He’s been on the Donny & Marie Osmond Show and the Muppet Show. And he’s used to crazy experiences that bring out certain qualities in him. And so long may that go on."
In all fairness, this was all in good humor. Daniels never seemed to pass the original holiday special off as the worst production on the planet. But he more so treated it as something that he could now look fondly back at and could laugh about it. (Because sometimes all you can do is laugh.) He even said, “I’ve rebooked the therapy because I thought that was over but no, it’s awakened those memories, you know? They stay there!” And when asked what was one positive thing that he could say about the original special, his answer was, “I got paid.”
Thankfully, he has a completely different outlook on the new holiday adventure that’s out now. One where Rey and BB-8 set out on a quest to find the true meaning of being a Jedi mentor while Finn, Rose, Poe and C-3PO struggle to throw a Life Day celebration with Rey absent. As an almost parody of itself, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is hilarious for Star Wars fans new and old. And as a bonus for Anthony Daniels, as he recalls, “It’s an all-around winner and actually has negated my earlier memories.” We’re glad he’s finally found some solace with this, and just in time for Life Day!
You can catch Anthony Daniels and many more in the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, streaming now on Disney+.