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Submitted by on Aug 2, 2021

R2-D2, sometimes known as Artoo-Detoo, is a fictional character in George Lucas’ Star Wars saga. He has appeared in eleven of the twelve Star Wars films that have been released thus far. R2, an astromech droid, is a buddy of C-3PO, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, Leia Organa, Luke SkywalkerObi-Wan Kenobi, BB-8, Rey, and D-O at various stages during the movie. With the exception of Solo: A Star Wars Story, R2-D2 and his sidekick C-3PO are the only characters to appear in every Star Wars film (2018).

R2-D2 was performed by English actor Kenny Baker in all three original Star Wars films, and he was given billing credit for the character in the prequel trilogy, but Baker’s part was diminished since R2-D2 was mostly depicted by radio operated props and CGI models. Baker was listed as a consultant for The Force Awakens in the sequel trilogy, but Jimmy Vee also co-performed the role in several sequences. Beginning with The Last Jedi, Vee takes up the position. Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey, puppeteers, play R2-D2 in The Rise of Skywalker, replacing Jimmy Vee, who performed the character in the previous two films. Ben Burtt, a sound designer, produced his noises and vocal effects.

Ralph McQuarrie created the artwork for R2-D2, which was co-developed by John Stears and constructed by Peteric Engineering. Tony Dyson and his White Horse Toy Company created the fibreglass shells for the Empire Strikes Back droids.


Although his mentality is entirely contrary, George Lucas’s conception of R2-D2 was influenced by the peasant Matashichi from Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 feature film The Hidden Fortress (released in the United States in 1962). The robots Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Douglas Trumbull’s 1972 film Silent Running also inspired Lucas and artist Ralph McQuarrie.

The term comes from a scene in one of Lucas’s earlier films, American Graffiti. Walter Murch, the sound editor, claims responsibility for the phrase that gave the droid its name. Murch requested Reel 2, Dialog Track 2 (abbreviated “R-2-D-2”). When Lucas, who was in the room and had drifted off while working on the Star Wars script, heard the request, he sprang up and said, after asking for clarification, that it was a “wonderful name” before returning to his script.

According to a Star Wars encyclopedia produced following the premiere of the film Star Wars, R2-D2 stands for Second Generation Robotic Droid Series-2. Special effects supervisor Brian Johnson commissioned Tony Dyson, proprietor of the special effects firm The White Horse Toy Company, to build the updated mechanical design for The Empire Strikes Back, producing multiple components that could be controlled remotely. Baker employed a few, including two stunt duplicate models for the sequence where the droid was fired from the swamp onto Dagobah’s shore.

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