Star Wars 7: Disney and JJ Abrams recruit British fans to build R2-D2

Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples are developing the iconic robot at Pinewood Studios after Disney confirmed it will feature in Episode VII

While we all guessed/hoped R2-D2 would be making a Star Wars return, Disney have officially confirmed the news that their veteran drone will play a part in JJ Abrams’ Episode VII after a tweet from the writer and director’s production company, Bad Robot, featured a photo of the diminutive robot…


But it has since been revealed that Disney has hired British Star Wars fans and droid builders Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples (pictured above with Abrams and LucasFilm president, Kathleen Kennedy) to work on the upcoming film. The duo – who create fully-functioning, astromech droids just like the R2-D2 seen in the photo – told the official Star Wars blog all about their unusual recruitment.

“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at the Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,” explained Steeples. “She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary.

“I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation.”

The pair are living their dream as they work full time on the seventh film at Pinewood Studios. “It’s fascinating to see the whole process of filmmaking as Star Wars: Episode VII grows around us,” added Towersey. “I feel very privileged to be in the working environment I’m in at the moment. It’s something I will never take for granted.”

Star Wars Episode VII will begin filming in the UK this spring after holding a series of open auditions across the country for two major roles. But fans have quite a wait to see the finished product, with the movie not set to offiically open in cinemas until 18 December 2015.