Kenny Baker, the actor who played Artoo, has died at the age of 81. The 3 foot, 8 inch actor was the man inside the droid for the original and prequel trilogies. He also played Paploo the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and appeared in Time Bandits and Flash Gordon
Baker has been ill for some time. “It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life,” his niece, Abigail Shield, told the Guardian. “He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”
Peter Mayhew posted “a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart” on Chewbacca.com on Monday.
“Goodbye #KennyBaker,” Mark Hamill tweeted. “A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination. He WAS the droid I was looking for!” Fellow actors Ewan McGregor and Warwick Davis also posted remembrances on Twitter.
George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy spoke about Baker on StarWars.com. Lucas calls him “a real gentleman” and “an incredible trooper,” while Kennedy says “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”
The young Han Solo movie is casting for a “Chance” – aka Lando Calrissian, The Wrap reports today. With Chewbacca and (probably) the Millennium Falcon on board, it seems likely that we could be getting the tale of how Han won the ship from Lando in the first place.
UPDATE: According to Birth Movies Death, Donald Glover (Community, The Martian) is the first choice for the role.
Like Han, these are gonna be tough shoes to fill. We first met Lando, as played by Billy Dee Williams, in The Empire Strikes Back. (Empire screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan penned the script to the new film with his son Jon.) Williams has reprised the role recently on Rebels.
In less rumory news, co-director Chris Miller shared on Twitter a picture of him and Philip Lord on the Falcon set. (Presumably Episode VIII’s.) We do know they auditioned Alden Ehrenreich and other finalists for the role of Han on the Falcon set.
This afternoon’s Rogue One item from Entertainment Weekly is a look at Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera. Turns out he shares a couple traits with our old pal Darth Vader… That bulky armor isn’t just for show – or, as we joked back before we knew the character was from The Clone Wars, the modern take on Kyle Katarn’s oh-so-90’s shoulder pad. The armored suit is helping him repair “some of the many injuries he’s had,” says Whitaker. Also touched on: His relationship with Jyn, and his hair changes.
Alan Tudyk drops some details on his Rogue One character, the droid K-2SO, over at Entertainment Weekly. He adresses Kaytoo’s past as an Imperial security droid, his accent, and his relationship with Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, and even describes a scene – or part of one, anyway. EW this week has also covered the planet Jedha and spoke to Riz Ahmed about his character Bodhi Rook.
The third season of Star Wars Rebels will debut Saturday, September 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD. The hour-long season premiere ‘Steps into Shadow’ features the introduction of classic villain Grand Admiral Thrawn into canon – the first character to make that leap since the old Expanded Universe was reclassified as Star Wars Legends.
As we learned at Celebration, the new season also introduces new looks for Rebels characters Ezra and Sabine, plus a new character voiced by Doctor Who’s Tom Baker. Here’s a new teaser: