The death of Kenny Baker, the Star Wars icon that portrayed R2-D2 in the original trilogy and three prequels of the franchise, has led to a hoard of tributes being released for the diminutive actor.
Baker was found dead on Saturday morning by one of his nephews, with his niece later explaining to The Guardian that he had been suffering with an illness for quite some time. He was 81. (It was initially reported that Baker was 83, but that has since been corrected.)
The announcement that Kenny Baker had succumbed to his illness led to other members of the Star Wars team taking to Twitter and releasing statements paying tribute to him.
This began with Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens primarily opposite Kenny Baker’s R2-D2.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 13, 2016
Ewan McGregor, who portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three Star Wars prequels, taking over the role from Sir Alec Guinness, also quickly took to Twitter to pay his own respects.
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
Further cinematic luminaries soon started to pay their own personal tributes to Kenny Baker, including fellow Star Wars actor Warwick Davis.
— Warwick Davis (@WarwickADavis) August 13, 2016
Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind the original Star Wars films, also wasted no time in uploading their own tribute to Kenny Baker.
Rest in peace, Kenny Baker, the heart and soul of R2-D2. pic.twitter.com/NqOpxotxyK
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) August 13, 2016
The Star Wars fan website also posted a rather touching picture soon after his death was announced, which showed Kenny Baker inside his R2-D2 costume while he also had a huge smile emblazoned across his face.
— Star Wars (@starwars) August 13, 2016
Meanwhile, William Shatner, who is primarily remembered because of his starring role in the Star Trek series as Captain James T. Kirk, also uploaded his own condolences to Kenny Baker and his family.
Saddened to learn of the passing of Kenny Baker.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) August 13, 2016
The above were soon joined by George Lucas, the man who created the character of R2-D2 and convinced Kenny Baker to take the role of the character all the way back in 1976.
Lucas released a statement to Star Wars, which read as follows.
“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.”
Kathleen Kennedy, who is currently the head of Lucasfilm and working as its president, having helped to bring Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the big screen, also released a statement regarding Kenny Baker’s passing.
“We’re all saddened to learn of Kenny’s passing,” Kennedy stated. “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”
It had already been confirmed that Kenny Baker will be replaced in the Star Wars saga by Jimmy Vee. The 3-foot-8 actor was cast back in November, 2015, to star in Star Wars: Episode VIII, having previously starred in the likes of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone and Pan.
[Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]