KENNY BAKER

Bid­ding farewell to the Star Wars ac­tor and leg­end…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

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.

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