A Major Star Wars C-3PO Fan Theory Might Be More J.J. Abrams Trailer Misdirection

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When the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker dropped last month, it seemed to confirm that C-3PO would be getting a big hero’s farewell in Episode IX. The clip that everyone is speculating about shows the golden protocol droid with the wires in his head exposed, acting uncharacteristically tender, telling his friends that he wants to take a look at them “One last time.”

The leading theory, now, is that Threepio’s internal hard drive will be wiped, perhaps to access some sort of deep memory bank that would help translate words from an old Force relic capable of destroying Emperor Palpatine. While it certainly sounds feasible, actor Anthony Daniels, aka the human-cyborg-relations droid himself, has confirmed that, even though the film is set to drop in about six weeks, nothing is set in stone yet. In fact, in my interview this week with the longtime Star Wars mainstay, Daniels says that, regarding Threepio’s fate, things are changing on a daily basis over on J.J. Abrams’s production. And in the actor’s new book, when Daniels asked Abrams if the famously neurotic protocol droid would be getting a hero’s farewell, or death for “the Cause,” Abrams even replied, “Not on my watch.”

I asked Daniels about this extremely revealing bit of information towards the end of his book, and his response proved even more surprising than the text. “Oh yes, yes. You probably don’t know,” he said. “[J.J. Abrams] changes his mind on a daily basis, minute by minute! I mean, you would really, I can’t go into details, but you would laugh at correspondence we’re currently having, because the film isn’t finished yet.”

And then when I noted that the film comes out in December, Daniels broke down the “teasing” relationship Abrams and himself happen to have–which leads me to think that nothing in the recent trailer should necessarily be taken as fact. Abrams is known to be a bit tricky when it comes to this sort of thing. Daniels told me:

You know, everything is up for grabs until you see it in the theater because then you can’t fiddle with it anymore. Yeah, we have a very teasing relationship, and in fact, I actually do not understand an email he just sent me, when I have time I can write him back, “What?” But it is a wonderful ending to the whole Skywalker saga, in every sense. The whole set is peopled by the crew who’ve grown up with this story. And, you know, the actors who were there. Billy Dee Williams is back, as we know, and other people, and the new guys. So a really, really good atmosphere. It’s a ton of work, and by the end of it, I wasn’t sorry, you know, to kind of lie down. But it’ll be worth it.

It’s great that this particular film has come at the end, as far as I’m concerned, personally. I have ended up on a high note.

It’s important to note that Daniels did say that we will certainly see C-3PO in some form or another in the future. But, one thing is certain here: Rise of Skywalker is going to be a hell of a ride for C-3PO. Between the images of the droid with glowing red eyes, and him wielding what looks to be Chewbacca’s bowcaster, I think we can bet that Threepio, a character who has been largely absent from the new trilogy, will finally be getting his due in Episode IX.

Rise of Skywalker comes out of December 20.

Dom Nero is a staff video editor at Esquire, where he also writes about film, comedy, and video games.