clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Kenny Baker, the man inside R2-D2, dies at 83 (correction)

New, 13 comments

A pivotal, if unseen, actor in the Star Wars saga

Kenny Baker, the actor who starred as the droid R2-D2 in the first five Star Wars films, has died, reports The Guardian. He was 81.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Baker starred in every Star Wars film. He did not appear in The Force Awakens.

Baker, who stood only 3-foot-8 and was not expected to live past his puberty, began his show business career in theater and the circus. He shot to international name recognition with Star Wars in 1977. Director George Lucas hired him because his stature was small enough to fit inside the cylindrical, diminutive droid's chassis.

kenny baker

Though his face was never seen nor did he speak, Baker was beloved by multiple generations of Star Wars fans for the personality he gave to the cantankerous, resourceful R2-D2, a face of the Star Wars franchise and an essential character from its earliest draft to its most recent film, The Force Awakens.

Baker also appeared in 1983's Return of the Jedi, as Paploo, the ewok who steals a speeder bike. He also had roles in 1980's Flash Gordon, the Oscar-winning 1984 film Amadeus, and Jim Henson's fantasy classic Labyrinth of 1986.

Baker's niece told The Guardian his death was "expected, but it's sad nonetheless.

"He brought lots of happiness to people," said Abigail Shield, "and we'll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world."