Rian Johnson had (at least) one request for J.J. Abrams about The Force Awakens‘ ending – to have Artoo go with Rey instead of BB-8, so the classic droid could be reunited with Luke Skywalker. Luke, naturally, is central to The Last Jedi:
“Figuring out where his head was at was the very first thing I had to do when writing the movie. I had to crack this. And it had to be something for me that first and foremost made sense. Why did Luke Skywalker go off to this island?” Johnson says. “That was the starting point, and that’s what the entire movie explores.”
So Luke’s self-exile – and his reasoning – is a key factor in the film.
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.”
There were no wins for Star Wars at the Academy Awards tonight, but at least The Force Awakens lost (mostly) to fellow genre films. Mad Max: Fury Road pretty much swept the technical categories at the Academy Awards, shutting out The Force Awakens in Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Star Wars’ best chance was considered to be Visual Effects, which was instead won by Ex Machina in a surprising upset. John Williams lost out to The Hateful Eight’s Ennio Morricone, who paid tribute to 5-time winner Williams in his speech.
But hey, we did get an appearance by Threepio, Artoo and BB-8. Later, Daisy Ridley was joined by Dev Patel to present Best Documentary, and J.J. Abrams presented Best Director to The Revenant’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
J.J. Abrams , Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt explained Artoo’s actions (and lack thereof) in The Force Awakens at a post-screening event on Saturday, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. These are some pretty hefty spoilers, so check them out at the link or below the cut.
This week’s double issue of Entertainment Weekly will feature four The Force Awakens collector covers. Inside. there’ll be articles going behind-the-scenes and tidbits from J.J. Abrams, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and more. Stay tuned for more!