Four decade franchiseveteran Anthony Daniels admits C-3PO was little more than a "table decoration" in Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but the gold-plated protocol droid has a lot more to do in the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. According to Daniels — who previously described his Rise of Skywalker role as a character who is "front and center" in the conclusion to the nine-movie Skywalker Saga — C-3PO does "all sorts of weird stuff" when he teams with Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) in the Resistance's final fight against the tyrannical First Order.
"In The Last Jedi I became a table decoration, which I regretted, because Threepio was worth more than that," Daniels told Empire Magazine. "But he does all sorts of weird stuff in this one. It was a delight, a joy! I get to go out on a high. This is my third ending and I think I'll be saddest about this one. Return Of The Jedi was… well, it had the Ewoks in it, for God's sake!"
In The Last Jedi, it was Daniels' repeat co-star Mark Hamill who improvised a quiet goodbye between C-3PO and Luke Skywalker, who acknowledged his "sidekick" one last time when appearing to sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) on salt planet Crait:
"Initially, I didn't acknowledge Threepio. I walked right past him," Hamill told Entertainment Tonight. "I said, 'Rian, look, after all those years of service, even though we haven't been in contact in recent years, Threepio was the closest to a sidekick I had. Harrison [Ford] had Chewie and I had Artoo and Threepio. But he's so accommodating and so collaborative. He said, 'Oh, absolutely, you should go over there.' We didn't really have time to script anything...just to acknowledge him, and that's what I did."
But the little-seen C-3PO will again play a significant role in Daniels' last turn as the character. Speaking to Uproxx ahead of The Rise of Skywalker, returning The Force Awakens writer-director Abrams said C-3PO is "very center to this story and truly wonderful in it."
Asked why classic droids C-3PO and sidekick droid R2-D2 were less integral to the plots of the sequel trilogy — with more focus given to newly created Resistance droid BB-8 — Abrams answered, "Obviously, you do the best you can. You focus on what the story is and you respond to what your gut is telling you is working. And what the story seems to want."
"You know, I don't know how strategic one can be working on something like that, thinking about how little or how much certain characters are used. Which is to say, you want to use them to serve the story," Abrams continued. "It turned out, we didn't strategize this is the one Threepio has to be in more scenes than he's ever been in. It just turned out that the story was best served using a character that has been underused to see a new side of him and tell the story. So it was very much a utility, but it felt inspired that you got to see a character in a whole new light."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.