The Star Wars world had a pretty rough go last year. Not only did we lose Carrie Fisher all too soon, but Kenny Baker, who brought R2-D2 to life in all seven Star Wars movies prior to Rogue One also passed away. As sad as his passing was, R2-D2 is still going to continue to be a part of a galaxy far, far away in the future, starting with Star Wars: The Last Jedi later this year. It has now been revealed that 57-year-old actor Jimmy Vee will be filling those very big shoes and portraying R2-D2 in Star Wars 8.
According to Express, Jimmy Vee, who starred in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and has also worked quite a bit in Doctor Who over the years will now be the man responsible for bringing R2-D2 to the big screen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He actually starred alongside Kenny Baker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though his role was uncredited. Here is what he had to say about taking on the role of R2-D2 and working with Kenny Baker.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to have worked alongside the legendary Kenny Baker. Kenny was a fantastic actor and taught me all the tricks on how he brought R2-D2 to life which I will continue to portray in his honour. I'm so excited to be a part of the Star Wars universe and can't wait for everyone to see what we've been working so hard on for the last year."
The importance of Kenny Baker's work in the Star Wars movies simply cannot be understated. During the original trilogy, he was truly responsible for making R2-D2 the character we all know and love. At that time, it was long before anyone was able to make an actual radio-controlled robot, so he was actually in a suit and had to actually work the droid himself. So all of R2's mannerisms and classic movements come directly from Kenny Baker. Now, much of the shots involving R2-D2 are done with a remote controlled robot or CGI, but there are apparently going to be some shots done in a more practical way. Not only that, but Kenny Baker was credited as a consultant on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It seems likely that Jimmy Vee could help to fill in that role, even if he isn't actually in costume all that much.
Much like Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 wasn't featured all that much in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. His first few scenes featured the character in a complete standstill and it wasn't until the last several minutes of the movie where the droid actually did anything. So, it seems very likely that his role will be more significant in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which means Jimmy Vee will have his work cut out for him. Luckily, since he doesn't have to worry about looking the part, he should hopefully be able to make it a pretty smooth transition.
R2-D2 was last seen accompanying Chewbacca and Rey to the planet of Ahch-To to find Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars 7. R2 and Chewy stayed on the Millennium Falcon as Rey approached Luke during the final moments of The Force Awakens. It is unclear what role the little droid will have in Star Wars 8, but he'll surely reunite with Luke in the opening moments of this upcoming sequel. And it's possible that R2 will help Chewbacca fend off the Knights of Ren from an incoming attack above the planet of Ahch-To in the Falcon as Rey and Luke deal with Kylo Ren on the ground below.
Though we are all sad that Kenny Baker won't be able to continue his legacy in the Star Wars universe, it is very nice that the character of R2-D2 will be able to live on. In addition to Jimmy Vee as the new R2-D2, the cast for Star Wars Episode VIII includes Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'O and Mark Hamill. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson and is set for release on December 15.