While doing press for the new LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels remembers his experience on the maligned 1978 original.
Filming the original Star Wars Holiday Special was like being at funeral, according to C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels. The infamous TV special aired in 1978 and has never been rebroadcast, continuing to circulate in bootleg copies on its way to becoming something of a legend for Star Wars fans.
Featuring all of the original cast, the Star Wars Holiday Special follows Han Solo and Chewbacca as they travel to the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate “Life Day” with Chewie’s family: his father Itchy; his wife Malla; and their son Lumpy. Luke, Leia, C-3PO, and R2D2 all make appearances, as does Darth Vader, and an animated portion introduced Boba Fett to the Star Wars canon. The band Jefferson Starship even gets in on the action with a holographic performance. The special was universally hated upon release, and George Lucas, whose involvement was limited, was equally unhappy with it. As a result, Lucasfilm has never released the special on home video, though any hope it would fade into memory was dashed by the fans that turned it into a cult classic.
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With the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special now having debuted on Disney+, the maligned original is once again making headlines. In an interview with EW to promote the new release, Anthony Daniels discusses his past experience, which he characterizes as far from festive:
This thing was meant to be a happy Life Day, then we’re in this giant set draped with black, it was just awful. It was like being at a weird funeral, you have to watch it on YouTube for the full horror. Watch the last ten minutes, and you’ll see why [the new show] contrasts rather well and is rather fun. Poor Mark, poor Carrie, poor Harrison – you can see it on their faces! They’re gritting their teeth and it shows; they’re like hanging onto each other. I think people learn their lesson, and I think we may be on track to make a regular Life Day holiday special, and why not?
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special takes place after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and follows Rey and BB-8 as she journeys across space and time to learn more about the Force while her friends prepare a Life Day celebration aboard the Millennium Falcon. Numerous characters from across the canon make appearances, but only Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and C-3PO retain their original voices. Daniels is the only actor credited in both specials, making him uniquely qualified to compare them. Elsewhere in the interview, he doubled-down on his desire to continue playing his iconic droid character for as long as possible, though he admitted he would want someone to take up the mantle after he dies.
While many dedicated Star Wars fans have not been willing to subject themselves to the 1978 disaster, this new holiday special seems much more palatable, scoring mostly positive notices from both critics and audiences. Of course, unlike in the VHS era, the Star Wars Holiday Special is widely available to watch on YouTube should anyone want to take the plunge this holiday season. Perhaps taking Daniels’ advice and watching just the last ten minutes before switching over to Disney+ would make for a much more appreciative viewing of the franchise’s long-awaited second attempt.
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