Bidding farewell to the Star Wars actor and legend…
His most famous character was resurrected just last year in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so it was with sadness that we learned that R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker passed away at the age of 81. The Birmingham-born actor became a convention darling after appearing in a series of sci-fi and fantasy classics throughout the ’80s, including Willow, Labyrinth, Flash Gordon and Time Bandits.
But he was best-known for enduring hours in a tin can – and in the Tunisian desert, no less – to play a droid in the Star Wars films. His three-foot-eightinch stature meant he was the perfect size to play R2-D2 in a pre-CGI age; he was cast on sight by director George Lucas. “It’s all about giving R2 a personality,” Baker said in 2005, “and CGI can never really do that.” He reprised the role for the three Star Wars prequels and worked as a consultant on The Force Awakens. Many of his co-stars tweeted heartfelt goodbyes to a man who was a friend as well as a colleague. “He WAS the droid I was looking for!” Mark Hamill said, perhaps most touchingly.
Baker passed away just 11 days before his 82nd birthday on 13 August, after an extended illness. Thanks to his fantasy work, though, he’ll never be forgotten. Guillermo del Toro summed it up best when he said: “Like Napoleon, his stature was measured not from head-to-ground but head-to-sky.”
Working in a metal can in the desert – a true Star Wars legend.