Mark Hamill leads tributes to Star Wars R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker

The man who gave life to R2-D2 has sadly died

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Star Wars actor Mark Hamill has been leading tributes to Kenny Baker, the man who brought beloved astromech droid R2-D2 to life.

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Baker, who first stepped into R2’s body waY back in 1977, became a sci-fi hero for many when he guided R2 through all three original Star Wars films and the three prequels which followed decades later.

He died yesterday after a long illness, his agent confirmed.

Hamill kept his tribute short and sweet – but it doubtless struck a chord with fans of the original films.

Stars of the new Star Wars films also paid tribute to Baker, who had served as a R2-D2 adviser on The Force Awakens.

But it wasn’t just Baker’s co-stars who shared their love for their dearly departed colleague. Those whose lives had been touched by R2-D2 also poured their hearts out online.

George Lucas took time to pay tribute to Baker too, via the official Star Wars website. “Kenny Baker was a real gentleman as well as an incredible trooper who always worked hard under difficult circumstances,” Lucas said. “A talented vaudevillian who could always make everybody laugh, Kenny was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2 and will be missed by all his fans and everyone who knew him.”

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“We’re all saddened to learn of Kenny’s passing,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”