Anthony Daniels, renowned for his portrayal of C3-PO in the Star Wars movies, is at peace with auctioning off some of the most iconic items in the history of contemporary cinema. Amongst the lots in the once-in-a-lifetime sale in London is a screen-matched light-up C-3PO head from the very first film, which experts believe will sell for between $575,000 and $1,150,000 (£500,000 to £1,000,000).
“I had been thinking about doing this for a while, but I had no idea how to go about it,” he explained on a call from his London home. “When I was researching for my book, I was looking through all the items and ephemera I’d accumulated; I don’t say it was what I had collected because it’s different from collecting. It was all in boxes and cupboards or attics and so on, all of it out of sight, and it occurred to me that I wasn’t in any way honoring it.”
“We don’t have a lot of storage at home, so things were living in cardboard boxes, drawers, and we’d be like, ‘Oh, we’ll deal with that later,’ but, and this is a little embarrassing to say, later has been 40 years.”
Daniels continued, “It was like a first teddy bear where you don’t want to throw it away, but eventually something comes over you and says that time has passed, you put it away. I didn’t know how to go about moving on, but then a great friend of mine introduced me to Propstore.” Set up 25 years ago, Propstore is one of the world’s leading entertainment memorabilia auctioneers. This latest four-day live auction occurs at BAFTA
The actor, the longest-serving cast member of the multimillion-dollar Star Wars films, knew Propstore was the right hands for his artifacts after they sent him a book from one of their earlier auctions, including “an incredible shot of Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume.” Daniels still has that catalog on display in his sitting room.
Even the actor couldn’t believe what he came across when compiling the lots to consign.
“I was amazed to find the things in boxes,” Daniels recalled. “Our home in London is not a display case for my career in Star Wars. For the most part, you wouldn’t know what I did for a living. The beautiful head of C3-PO was in a cupboard, and the original script was in a box in the basement. When I touched it, I got this reference in my head, recalling the end scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Ark of the Covenant is in a wooden box, and a forklift truck is taking it to be stored at the back. It felt a bit like that.”
The crown jewel of all the actor’s items going under the hammer is the genuinely unique screen-matched light-up droid head from the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope.
“The only movie it appears in is Episode IV, the original Star Wars,” he confirmed. “It got dented after C3-PO falls off a cliff when attacked by Tusken Raider, one of the Sand People. He next appears with a bash and some damage. After that, in Episode V, he appears perfect again.”
“I loved C3-PO’s face, and when I would make TV appearances to advertise the movies, I would use it as a prop. Thinking back, there was no way I thought this stuff would be worth a lot of money. Back in the day, which is now four decades ago, we weren’t even really aware of the phrase ‘merch.’ There were all these meter-squared boxes of merchandise, and we had a small flat, so I used to give it to any kid that came by or take it to the local hospital for the kids to use.”
Also up for grabs in Propstore’s London auction is Daniels’ original third-draft script for Star Wars: A New Hope.
“The original script, which was called The Star Wars at the time, has things like my lines being, “Did you hear that? They shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure. This is madness. We’re doomed. There’ll be no escape for the captain this time.” Well, of course, that became princess and not captain,” he recalled. The script is expected to find a new home for between $11,500 and $23,000 (£10,000 and £20,000).
“I love that I will always have that in the beautiful catalog of the auction, but I just no longer need to own it because it was never on display. It’s not a shrine. I certainly don’t put down anybody who collects things at all. We have been in people’s homes over the years who have the most wonderful collection of real items. They respect them, they honor them, but I cherish my memories. There are people who, at this point in their life, a generation who were maybe 10 when they saw it for the first time, and they have the wherewithal to say, Do you know what? I want a piece of the original.'”
Another gem going under the hammer is Daniels’ handwritten Ewok Village speech page from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. That will likely cost someone $1,230 to $2,460 (£1,500 to £3,000).
“My handwriting is appalling, and the reason it was often quite large is because I would have to have it in front of me,” the actor revealed. “The original script would be in English. We would listen to tapes of all sorts of arcane languages and listen for sounds that were good architecturally. It was one of my happiest memories because I could tweak performances, and therefore, these ADR scripts were simple, crude, and visceral, and they’re in my handwriting. You can’t alter that.”
As the sale creeps closer, Daniels is sad but ready to let the items go.
“Having found a conduit for this material, I knew that was it. This is everything,” the actor told fans. “Take the opportunity now because this isn’t going to happen again.”