My track record for meeting the leading actors and actresses from the original Star Wars films had thus far been pretty darn good. Besides Mark Hamill, Kenny Baker, and of course Alec Guinness, there were only two of the so-called leading characters whom I was waiting to meet. I have no hope of meeting Guinness since he’s dead, and my hopes aren’t gigantic for Hamill. And they weren’t all that huge for the other two: David Prowse, who was the man behind the Darth Vader mask (voiced of course by James Earl Jones, whom I have actually met… but not gotten a photo with), and Anthony Daniels, who had not only played C3PO in the original three films, but actually has become the only performer to reprise his role in every one of the films – including the eighth installment currently in production.
David Prowse had made lots of convention appearances, even if the bulk of them were not in America. Still I had seen his name pop up a couple of times, but had missed them all. Hearing that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s didn’t exactly elevate my hope for ever getting the chance to meet him face to face. I have already mentioned the one time when I was able to secure an autograph without a meeting…. but I needed that picture with him!
My hopes took an upward turn when he was scheduled to attend the Lexington Comic & Toy Expo, and then subsequently the Steel City Con in the Spring of 2016. When he cancelled the Lexington appearance, my hopeful meter dropped a bit, but ultimately he came through with the latter appearance on April 16, 2016.
His prices were pretty outrageous: $50 for an autograph, and $50 for a table photo op, or a combo for $80. After hemming and hawing about whether I wanted to shell out the additional $30 for the autograph, I ultimately had him add his signature to the Darth Vader postcard that James Earl Jones had sent me for free. I could have waited around for the professional photo op for $60, but it would have left me stuck at the show until 4:30 that afternoon. The other irritating thing was that the photo ops – as expensive as they were – could only be taken from over-the-table. I felt a mixture of disappointment with the relief of finally securing myself a photo with the man who had been Darth Vader, the most famous villain in the most famous franchise in film history.
There was a very healthy slathering of sweet icing on this cake too. Also appearing at this Steel City Con was C3PO himself, Anthony Daniels, in an exceptionally rare appearance. I had heard lots of things about him, the most prevalent was that he was exceptionally rude, and thus I really had very little hope of ever meeting him. But somehow the Steel City Con came through with getting Daniels to fly over from London where he was currently on a break from filming the eighth Star Wars installment.
Again he didn’t come cheap. Only professional photo ops were offered for him, but it was really a no-brainer that I was going to shell out the $70 for one. Autographs were $60, and again it took some consideration, but I ultimately had him sign the photo that I had picked up long ago of him with R2-D2 that had been signed by Kenny Baker.
After I got through his lengthy autograph line, I found him to be quite friendly. I had wanted to ask him something a bit unique, so I asked him if he still remembered the lyrics to The Odds Against Christmas from the Meco Star Wars Christmas album Christmas in the Stars. He thought about it for a second, laughed, and then said “No, I actually don’t… but I do remember most of What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?” Perfect.
Anthony Daniels hasn’t made many other film or TV appearances outside of playing C3P0, but when you’re C3P0, why would you need to? I for one was thrilled with this photo op – made even more fun by the mini C3P0 he supplied me with for the picture.
I’d say that this dual Star Wars bucket list encounter alone made my journey to Pittsburgh worthwhile.
Celebrities of the Spring 2016 Steel City Con will continue…