British actor Kenny Baker, who played the droid R2-D2 in the famous Star Wars films, died at the age of 81 after a long illness on 13 August 2016. Baker, who was only 3ft 8in tall, was suffering from a lung condition from the past few years.
After staring as the droid in the first Star Wars film in 1977, he reprised the role of the droid in other movies in the Star Wars franchise like The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the Star Wars prequel trilogy: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode IIAttack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
His filmography also includes films like The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon which made him a household name in the eighties.
The Baker obituary on starwars.com included a quote from George Lucas, the director of the Star Wars franchise:
“Kenny Baker was a real gentleman as well as an incredible trooper who always worked hard under difficult circumstances. A talented vaudevillian who could always make everybody laugh, Kenny was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2 and will be missed by all his fans and everyone who knew him.”
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, paid tribute to the star on Twitter.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 13, 2016
The studio behind the original Star Wars films, 20th Century Fox, posted a still of R2-D2 and C-3PO on twitter:
Rest in peace, Kenny Baker, the heart and soul of R2-D2. pic.twitter.com/NqOpxotxyK
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) August 13, 2016
Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three Star Wars prequels, tweeted:
So sorry to hear about this. It was lovely working with Kenny. Kenny Baker, Star Wars R2-D2 actor, dies aged 81 https://t.co/9HW6f3MWZl
— Ewan McGregor (@mcgregor_ewan) August 13, 2016
Actor Daniel Logan, who played Boba Fett in 2002's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, tweeted:
So sad to hear one of my dearest friends passed away. Rest in peace Kenny Baker. Love you. Will miss you! pic.twitter.com/FosdwNysGk
— Daniel Logan (@Daniel_Logan) August 13, 2016
Baker was a consultant on the last Star Wars production - The Force Awakens - but British actor Jimmy Vee was already lined up to take on the role of R2-D2 in the next film, due for release in 2017.