Kenny Baker, the actor who played the famous robot R2-D2 in Star Wars: Episodes I to VI, passed away on Saturday after a long illness. The 112 centimeters tall actor has turned 81 years old.
That reports The Guardian on Saturday evening. It was expected that Baker would not live long due to his exceptionally short height, but he did not live up to those expectations. In fact, his height made the man from Birmingham perfectly suited for the role of the little R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies. Baker played the role of a consultant for the seventh film, The Force Awakens. Baker was unable to attend the Los Angeles premiere in December due to health, but could attend the European premiere in London. According to the IMDb credits, nobody played the part in that film, so that must have been done with special effects there.
His niece, Abigail Shield, told The Guardian that his passing was “not unexpected, but very sad nonetheless. He lived a long and full life. He brought people great joy and we celebrate the fact that he was known and loved all over the world.” the world. We are very proud of what he has achieved in his life.” She also says that he had many problems with his lungs at a later age and was often in a wheelchair.
In a 2014 interview tracked down by Quartz, Baker said he initially turned down the R2-D2 role. “I don’t have to be stuck in a robot,” he had said. If he knew what a success Star Wars would be, he would have done it for nothing, especially since Lucas would have “not had a penny to make” at the time of A New Hope. “That’s all in retrospect, but I should have done it for nothing.”
Condolences, including from Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor, pouring in on Twitter.