We’ve already heard actors like Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon) and Dominic Pace (Gekko) talk about how exciting it’s been to work on the first, live-action Star Wars series ever in The Mandalorian. Now imagine how fun it would be to play not one but four, separate characters in the series. That’s the amazing truth for actor Chris Bartlett. Oh, and that guy in the C-3PO suit when Anthony Daniels isn’t around? Yeah, that’s Bartlett, too. In this exclusive interview, That Hashtag Show had the honor of speaking with Bartlett and learning about his incredible journey to becoming part of the Star Wars universe.
One of the first things you’ll learn upon speaking with Chris Bartlett is that he’s one of us; a Star Wars fan to the core. Like me, he grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy and the toys that came with it. Fast forward to 2003. Bartlett, again, like so many others, was building his own Star Wars costumes and decided to do a character not many others had done: C-3PO.
[W]henever you’re making these costumes, the dream is always, man, I hope this turns out good. You ‘ah, man, wouldn’t it be cool’ if this, you know, turned out so well that’s someone at Lucasfilm… thought that it was worthy of being used in something. But of course, none of that’s going to happen because that’s all a dream.”
It wasn’t all a dream for Bartlett, though. He reached out to a friend at Lucasfilm to proudly show off his Threepio costume, just for fun. Little did he know…. A simple conversation with that friend earned him a phone call from Lucas Arts:
And then a couple of months later, Lucas Arts at the time gave me a call and said ‘we would like to use you, use your costume.’”
After a second call from Lucas Art expedited the chrome finish on his suit, Chris Bartlett was off to Australia to perform at an event as C-3PO. (And yes, he can even do the voice.) The rest, as they say, is history.
Chris Bartlett meets Anthony Daniels
And so then after that they just kept calling… whether it was a McDonald’s commercial or appearance on the Oscars or a trip to the White House to meet the president. I’ve been doing it for almost 14 years. I was just trying to get, you know, better and better at it. I had met with Anthony Daniels, I performed with him for Disney… and then also a couple of other times. In those early days, he would give me tips on animation, how to isolate your body parts. And then he said, ‘oh, let’s hear you do the voice.’”
“That’s like Elvis saying to an Elvis impersonator, let me hear you do me.”
“I felt so inadequate, so surreal,” Bartlett remarked of the occasion fondly. To this day Chris Bartlett continues to portray C-3PO for television and special events, including a recent episode of Lego Masters on Fox.
But his role as a Star Wars performer doesn’t stop there. His exceptional performance as C-3PO directly resulted in his casting in The Mandalorian:
Because they knew of my work there, somebody who worked on this show recommended that I go in, or that they give me a call. So they gave me a call, I went down for a fitting. I didn’t know what it was for until I got there and they said it was for a droid bounty hunter. And I said ‘oh man, could you imagine? the best of both worlds, you know?’ And they showed me a picture of Zero and I just thought ‘this is like a mix between Boba Fett and C-3PO!’ I did an audition in in the suit.”
Obviously he got the part.