This Is The Droid You’re Looking For: Star Wars Has Its New R2-D2
You can breathe a sigh of relief Star Wars fans—R2-D2 has officially been recast.
Variety has reported that actor Jimmy Vee is taking over the role of R2-D2 in Star Wars: The Last Jedi after Kenny Baker, who originated the role, passed away last August at the age of 81. Vee is no stranger to the world of cinematic fantasy and sci-fi, as he’s previously appeared as a Gringotts goblin in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and as various aliens and otherworldly creatures in Doctor Who.
The Vee casting announcement was a long time coming, as the 57-year old actually worked with Baker on the set of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an R2-D2 “consultant,” though Baker was the only one credited for the role. Baker had apparently been ill for quite some time before his death, so he may have been training Vee with the intention to have him take over as R2 for The Last Jedi.
And Vee is clearly grateful to have learned directly from the droid master himself. In an official statement released by the Oh So Small Actors Agency, Vee said “Kenny was a fantastic actor and taught me all the ‘tricks’ on how he brought R2-D2 to life which I will continue to portray in his honor. I’m so excited to be a part of the Star Wars universe and can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been working so hard on for the last year.”
R2-D2 has always been controlled by both a human actor and by remote-control units, and this practice will likely remain the same for The Last Jedi, as R2’s aurally expressive, almost human-like personality is arguably what makes him so widely loved.
Before The Last Jedi, Baker was the only one who played the role of R2-D2—ever since 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope—so Vee obviously has a lot to live up to. However, the fact that Vee and Baker worked closely together gives us hope that the “new” R2 will be just as lovably sassy as the original.