When you think Kenny Baker movies, it is hard not to think beyond his role as R2-D2 in the Star Wars films and specials (like it or not the Star Wars Holiday Special did happen). This role alone will be enough to cement him in the lore of fantasy and science fiction films for years to come. However, Baker was in a number of other cult classics that you may not realize he was in as his IMDb profile shows. Here are five you may want to take a look at.
Probably the most critically acclaimed film on Kenny Baker’s resume was the winner of the 1984 Best Picture Oscar, Amadeus. Amadeus follows the life and times of famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is told through the eyes of a fan turned foe Antonio Salieri.
Salieri, a man of faith, sees the prodigy who is Mozart and feels his gifts must be from God. When Salieri finds out how less than saintly Mozart is, his faith comes into question. Later, when given the task by the Emperor to write a piece of music to welcome the composer, Mozart hears it, plays it back note-by-note, critiques it, and improves upon it. All this leads to the culmination of Salieri plotting to rid the world of the prodigy.
Kenny Baker plays Parody Commendatore, which isn’t a huge role. Nonetheless, the film did win eight Oscars, including Best Picture. How many actors can say that?
Baker worked with some of the most renowned people in their craft. Obviously, George Lucas comes to mind as the creator of the most iconic movie franchises of all time. However, when you mention motion pictures and television shows shows as it pertains to puppets, there is a short list of one person everyone thinks of, and that is Jim Henson. Henson was responsible for The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock, and Labyrinth.
Baker was a member of the Goblin Corps in Labyrinth. He worked along the likes of musician David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and Shelley Thompson. The Goblin Corps were made up of quite a few Star Wars veterans including Warwick Davis.
Labyrinth tells the story of a girl on the cusp of womanhood who is charged with watching her baby brother. His constant crying has her wishing a Goblin King that is from the play she is rehearsing would take the boy. In short, he does. While trying to win her brother back, the girl realizes that she is growing up. Labyrinth is synonymous with 80s fantasy.
Flash Gordon (1980)
What does Queen’s Freddy Mercury and Kenny Baker have in common? They both had something to do with the 1980 version of Flash Gordon, Defender of the Universe. Again, Baker just plays a bit part as a dwarf. In a six degrees of separation twist, Max von Sydow plays Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He would go on to play in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the only Star Wars film Kenny Baker does not appear in.
While the movie is a little cheesy, it does have a goofy charm to it. It is in that interesting time period where it is one of the last movies that really felt it was inspired still by the 70s. The tagline sums it up best, “Get Ready to Kick Some Flash!”
The Elephant Man (1980)
The year 1980 also saw Baker having a role in the critically acclaimed movie The Elephant Man. It was directed by David Lynch and nominated for Best Picture. It’s the story of a doctor who rescues a disfigured man who has been making a living in a circus side show in Victorian England.
It is based on a true story. Baker plays a fellow outcast in the movie. The Elephant Man is certainly a must see film.
Time Bandits (1981)
If there was one movie on this list that is suggested out of all of them, it would be Time Bandits. It was directed by Terry Gilliam, and it truly is a Gilliam movie through and through just as Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen are.
In Time Bandits, a boy finds himself whisked away with time traveling little people. The band has stolen a map that will allow them the ability to travel to different time periods. There they seek to take as much treasure as they can. They find themselves on a crash course with the Supreme Being and evil incarnate. Kenny Baker plays Fidgit of the band of thieves.
It is safe to say that R2-D2 and Star Wars will always be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kenny Baker movies. However, Baker should also be known for some of his other work that included some of the most talented people in film and music of all time.
[Image via Handmade Films]