A Star Wars Celebration panel with Anthony Daniels reveals the secret of the phantom limb!
Whether you liked, loved or loathed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one argument refuses to withdraw itself from the realm of debate and that is why our beloved C-3PO came to be in possession of the unsightly red arm attached to his glistening gold torso. In the upshot of the movie’s release, one of the major questions stemming from his involvement in the expanding story was why on earth the heroic protocol droid would have such a discoloured aperture installed upon his frame.
It was a burning question that baffled the very best of us, but rumours running like wildfire at the time of release suggested it was a mark of senior military rank, earned from his previous exploits. Other suggestions sighted a lack of replacement parts for its attachment but the truth, in fact, is far more noble in context. The revelation, which was withheld until the fantastic Star Wars Celebration Europe event at London’s Excel Centre was unveiled to the world by the legendary actor who has been the custodian of the character for more than three decades.
The Star Wars icon himself, Anthony Daniels.
After queuing from the early hours of the morning, my party and I were lucky enough to claim one of the prized admission wristbands for Anthony Daniels’ personal panel: Without Protocol. The panel served as the perfect platform for the legendary figure to retell mythical tales from a galaxy far, far away. However, as the auditorium began to fill with excited fans from across the globe, another Star Wars legend took to the stage in the guise of a guest presenter.
That legend was none other than Warwick Davis.
The legendary actor, having portrayed several lovable characters within the realm of the Star Wars galaxy was the perfect choice to enthral the crowd and entice us with tales of his on-set exploits ranging from his debut in Return of the Jedi to his cameo in The Phantom Menace and ending with his masked role in The Force Awakens. The thousands of fans, all lucky enough to get a wristband entry pass sat in awe as Warwick comically jested that he should have been the focus of such an esteemed panel instead of Daniels and taunted the legacy of C-3PO when compared to the likes of lovable Ewok, Wicket W. Warwick.
It was a jovial crowd, one intoxicated by the awe of the event which in this writer’s opinion was a triumph for Star Wars and people behind its inception. The event was truly amazing and had been orchestrated in a most profound and professional manner, one that will remain unsurpassed in my mind.
It was then that Warwick forwarded us a selection of subjects in which to engage the long-awaited icon of the screen in, who had been signing countless autographs only moments earlier amongst the vast main hall. The subjects ranged from his time spent amongst the endless deserts of Tunisia to his involvement in the saga’s seventh instalment, no subject was off the table.
Nobody mentions the red arm…
It was an amusing warning to avoid the forbidden subject at all costs, this due to Daniels’ apparent hatred for the topic which had dogged his every waking moment since the release of The Force Awakens. From what we could gather, the topic had haunted every fan meeting and every autograph signing he had attended over the previous year’s calendar of events. It was simply a taboo subject, one that if mentioned would only serve to enrage the screen legend and cause his immediate departure from the stage.
Uncertain whether the warning was part of the act or a genuine set of guidelines to follow, the crowd did not hesitate to agree to the outlandish terms and conditions, desperate to catch a glimpse of the beloved actor and only moments later Davis announced his arrival in the most underwhelming of fashions.
Warwick simply uttered the words “please welcome…Anthony Daniels” in a less than enthused fashion.
To our delight, the disgruntled Anthony Daniels emerged from behind the black velvet like curtain and stepped foot onto the stage to a round of applause sporting a glistening, reflective gold sequinned jacket that only accentuated his portrayal of our much-loved C-3PO. But his demeanour revealed his displeasure at the lacklustre and less than impressive introduction awarded by his Star Wars colleague. He stomped across the stage toward the makeshift interviewer’s desk designed for Davis to conduct his in-depth Q&A session and launched into a tirade of reprimanding comments toward the outraged Ewok legend.
“You call that an introduction? I wanted something big” he scoffed.
“You wanted something big…like what?” Warwick replied sarcastically.
The crowd were in raptures by this point, spellbound by the once in a lifetime opportunity to catch a glimpse of their revered heroes in the flesh.
“I’m going off; you’ll just have to do it again” the actor spat before storming off stage once again.
It took several attempts of careful rewording to appease the British actor whom finally, but just as dissatisfied returned to the stage to embrace his adoring public. The golden sequinned jacket glistened beneath the spotlights and sent piercing flashes of light reflecting around the brimming room that was packed to capacity.
Once the well-deserved standing ovation began to subside, the crowd waited on tenterhooks as the screen icon turned to face us, the excitement intensified as we awaited his first words of profound wisdom. Would he open with a classic and enthralling line of text from C-3PO…or some sort of anecdote of Star Wars hilarity?…
And then he spoke…
“Oh, you probably don’t recognise me without the red arm!” he quipped before retrieving a long red bandage from his golden pocket.
To our surprise, the legend wrapped the whole length of red material around his arm until the entire limb was coated red revealing The Force Awakens version of our most beloved protocol droid. It was a classic moment but one nobody in the audience dared to speak of.
“Now you know who I am!” he quipped comically.
The legend then engaged in a glorious Q&A session with the crowd with Warwick offering up questions that put the icon on the spot. Ranging from how hot was the C-3PO costume and how he went to the toilet whilst wearing it to how much he was paid for the role. The questions were thick and fast but before too long Daniels moved to the floor to engage with the crowd and answer their questions.
He addressed the words of sarcasm R2-D2 uttered in the finale of The Force Awakens that caused Threepio to strike him and even touched upon his favourite Star Wars film to work on out of the seven instalments to date.
It was a fantastic conversation that resulted in a comedic re-enactment of the classic scene from A New Hope where Uncle Owen Lars purchased the droids from the herd of Jawas that had procured both R2-D2 and C-3PO from the dunes of Tatooine. Named Stage Wars by Warwick Davis, members of the audience were selected to play the individual character roles and were provided with a script in which to read from. The interaction was hilarious with fans from all over the world acting as their beloved characters from the saga with a special highlight being a rather embarrassed looking child selected to play C-3PO. It was a fun and hilarious interaction which was worth the time queuing alone but that paled in comparison to the tale the screen icon was about to relay to us.
He then asked if anyone wanted to know how Threepio obtained his controversial red arm.
The audience sat in stunned silence…
Dare we address the forbidden subject and touch upon the hidden truth of the phantom limb…a subject that had been declared off the table by the legendary Warwick Davis.
A split-seconds apprehension swiftly gave way and in unison the audience screamed their approval, pleading for the screen icon to elaborate on the truth behind the mystery limb that split opinions across the globe. Daniels then grabbed a comfortable seat before retrieving a comic book which revealed the image the golden droid we all know and love.
Daniels described the story as a moving tale of terror and destruction, honour, respect, sacrifice and understanding, one that revealed the ordeal that signalled the instalment of the red appendage.
It was simply the story of the Phantom Limb.
With C-3PO’s ship crash landing upon an unknown planet, he found himself stranded and in desperate need of rescue with only a small band of droids to help his cause. Among their number was a First Order security droid, one that had been programmed with intelligence pertaining to the whereabouts of the captured Resistance Leader Admiral Ackbar. The droid, simply known as OMRI refused to comply with his captor’s wishes and withheld the information pivotal to Ackbar’s rescue.
The stranded band of droids set off in search of a transmitter that would aid in their rescue but whilst exploring the region, their number was drastically reduced by the unforeseen dangers of the planet. One by one their companions succumbs to the vicious creatures and conditions of the planet which even caused our beloved Threepio to have his arm wrenched from its socket by a long tentacle wielding monster.
With only OMRI and C-3PO left active, they ventured off alone in search of the transmitter and began to establish a mark of respect for one another. They discussed their experiences from both sides of the war and even shared their views upon their erased memories which still echoed amongst the confines of their memory banks, but remained frustratingly out of reach.
Their interaction began to show signs of friendship, and soon they spotted a crashed vessel with an active transmitter upon the crest of the next ridge but just as they neared its location, a downpour of acid rain began to fall from the heavens. The lethal metallic melting liquid forced the droids to take refuge beneath a pile of wreckage but being made from metallic compounds, it soon began to succumb to the rain’s toxicity.
With all hope almost lost OMRI, in what can only be described as a selfless act of heroics transmitted Admiral Ackbar’s location to his companion who enquired if he had chosen to change factions and join him amongst the ranks of the Resistance.
OMRI replied that he had chosen the side of his friendship and before Threepio could offer any words of detraction, the security droid charged out into the acid rain which swiftly began to melt the black metallic paint from his structure. With his body melting away, the acid revealed the bright red primer beneath his black coating as he struggled against its life-ending effects to reach the transmitter. With his last reserve of energy, OMRI activated the homing beacon summoning the Resistance to their location and saving Threepio from certain doom but his heroics came at great cost. OMRI disintegrated to the surface of the planet leaving nothing but his red primer covered arm behind and C-3PO could do little but mourn his fallen friend.
As the rain dissipated, the clouds parted to reveal the rescue vessel piloted by Poe Dameron and his trusty sidekick BB-8 whom swiftly landed atop the ravaged surface to rescue his lost protocol droid. A solemn C-3PO stepped out from his shelter and retrieved OMRI’s remaining red arm as Poe arrived to aid him. Though gratified to be rescued, the feeling of loss could not be replaced and the forlorn protocol droid simply gathered the limb in his grasp and stepped foot onto the rescue ship. With OMRI’s data decoded, the coordinates of Admiral Ackbar’s holding cell were revealed and a rescue operation was implemented.
Safely back amongst the Resistance’s ranks and despite the red appendage offending his aesthetic sensibilities, Threepio attached it to his torso in place of his own lost golden limb and in the ultimate show of respect, vowed to keep the limb for a while in memoriam of his fallen friend. The story concluded with C-3PO staring out into the emptiness of space pondering the tragic loss of his droid friends.
It was a heartfelt rendition from the iconic actor who voiced the final words of the text in the tonal brilliance of C-3PO himself. The story revealed a new depth to the character who is often typecast as comedy relief amongst the backdrop of the Star Wars universe. There is clearly more to the character than previously thought and having the story told by the man himself only served to intensify its heartfelt meaning.
The panel ended with another well-deserved standing ovation for the unswerving Anthony Daniels who was indeed just as brilliant as he was billed to be. It was a joy to be in attendance of the event and only served to make Star Wars Celebration Europe all the more fantastical to all of its adoring fans.
The iconic and much-beloved character of C-3PO has grown well beyond his programming in the years since the release of A New Hope in 1977, the once stuck up Protocol Droid has given way to kind and a caring robot who hides his true feelings behind his veil of sarcasm. Rarely does he reveal his true feelings for his friends and colleagues but when he does, you can feel the authenticity and genuine nature of his personality.
Whether it be his touching exchanges with a sparring partner and forever counterpart R2-D2, his touching short-lived friendship with OMRI or his long-term struggle to finally gain the approval of one Han Solo, C-3PO is undoubtedly an unsung hero of the Star Wars saga and maybe, just maybe there is more to him than meets the eye?
The red arm was indeed a controversial addition, yet it served to catapult our beloved protocol droid back into the spotlight once again. A move that has only served to uncover even more hidden depth to an already fantastic character…
Read the Star Wars C-3PO comic to embrace the fantastic story for yourself and fashion your own opinion of the beloved protocol droid whom first captured our hearts in 1977, dodging blaster fire from the dreaded Imperial Stormtroopers aboard the Rebel Blockade Runner.
The character is a true icon of the story and will forever hold a special place in the heart of this writer.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.