Eloquent British actor Anthony Daniels has enjoyed the claim to fame — as persnickety golden robot C-3PO — of having both the first and last lines of dialogue in the "Star Wars" saga.
In the original 1977 space romp from George Lucas, Threepio (as he is nicknamed) opens the film by asking his short, twittering sidekick R2-D2: "Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactor. There'll be no escape for the princess this time."
And 28 years later, the spoken portion of "Revenge of the Sith" concludes with C-3PO reacting to the news that he would receive a memory wipe by crying, "Oh, no!"
Only recently, it occurred to Daniels that since the six films were made out of order (4, 5 and 6, then 1, 2 and 3) and then reshuffled for future rereleases, his two lines actually ended up smack in the middle rather than as bookends. Oops, he noted with a rueful laugh. At least he's still the only actor to appear in all six.
But now he has the first, last and, well, all of the words as narrator of "Star Wars: In Concert," a multimedia extravaganza coming to Intrust Bank Arena for two performances Saturday.
"It's really quite an event with a live, 86-person orchestra and a 60-member chorus. And a giant, three-story digital screen to project new compilations from all six films. And I get to tell the complete story," Daniels said during a phone conversation from London.
"It's all about destiny. It's about the destiny of a little boy who becomes a villain and another little boy who becomes a hero.
"There are myths and legends in every society, from the Greeks and Romans to the Nordic cultures. In Kansas, you have your own 'Wizard of Oz.' On a very basic level, it's about heroes and villains and epic journeys. The tales all speak to man's curiosity and the need for adventure. That is the joy of 'Star Wars.' It is a glorious story that everyone can share."
Daniels, who also participated in all of the "Star Wars" spin-offs from anti-smoking public service ads to animated TV series to palling around as Big Bird's guest on "Sesame Street," confessed that he didn't really get the magic of "Star Wars" until he was asked a year ago to be part of the concert tour.
"I was in all of them so I was too close to qualify as a fan," he said. "I hadn't had a chance to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. When I did, I saw how people just embraced it all. I'm thrilled to be part of all this. That is my destiny as an actor because it's occupied so much of my life."
For the concerts, Daniels, 64, appears as himself in formal wear rather than in costume as C-3PO.
"Oh, my goodness, no, that would be much too uncomfortable for an entire evening. It used to take six people two hours to get me into it. It was also constructed so that I couldn't sit down. Between takes, I could only lean against a board to rest."
Besides, Daniels noted, his costume — designed by Liz Moore, who created the Star Child for "2001: A Space Odyssey" — is one of the key artifacts included in the displays that accompany the concert. He said to go at least an hour early just to see all the props, costumes, weapons, scripts and other items.
"Would you believe, there is only the one C-3PO costume? If you ever met (producer) Rick McCallum, you'd know that he was not about to make a new costume for every film. I actually wore the same costume in every one."
Daniels said that he almost didn't wear the costume in any of them because he wasn't a sci-fi fan and initially refused to meet with filmmaker George Lucas.
"I even walked out of '2001' because I was bored. When my agent told me Lucas wanted me to play a robot, I said 'You must be mad. I am a classically trained actor and mime,' " he said. "I saw myself doing Shakespeare. I didn't see myself as a robot. I didn't see my career going that direction. Can you imagine how I would feel today if I hadn't had second thoughts?"
Daniels said he relented, read the script and decided that Threepio was a "very likable character with a large personality." He was also inspired by the "vulnerability" he perceived in a prototype painting of the droid's face. Oddly, once Lucas got Daniels on camera, he almost ditched him because he didn't like the actor's robot voice. Lucas thought of Threepio more like a fast-talking used car salesman than a fussy butler.
"But sound designer Ben Burtt convinced George that my voice fit the character's personality and movements. I took a civilized voice and plunked it down in the middle of conflict. That's why he sounds cautious and know-it-all at the same time," Daniels said, lapsing into that familiar quick, crisp, metallic monotone. "I've grown quite fond of it."
If you go
'Star Wars In Concert'
What: Multimedia extravaganza with full live orchestra, laser-light show and film montage from all six films on three-story screen with narrator Anthony Daniels
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday
How much: Tickets: $25, $35, $49.50 and $65; available through Select-A-Seat at 316-755-SEAT (7328) or www.selectaseat.com.