Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has paid tribute to his Star Wars co-star Kenny Baker, the British actor who played R2-D2 and recently died at the age of 81.
Manchester-based actor Baker, who was 3ft 8in tall, had been unwell for some time and passed away on August 13. Though he was best known for his iconic Star Wars role, Baker also appeared in films including The Elephant Man, Willow, Flash Gordon, Amadeus, 24 Hour Party People and Labyrinth. On TV, he guested on shows including Casualty and The Chronicles Of Narnia.
“Kenny and I became fast friends the first time we met and formed a lifelong bond after realising that we had so much in common,” Mayhew said in a statement posted online.
“Although people liked to contrast the difference in our heights,” Mayhew continued, “we found we shared many of the same struggles, from finding clothes, driving cars, and fitting in airplane seats to health issues and the ever constant stares of strangers; we understood each other on a level that few others can.”
Mayhew went on to say: “For all the joy he brought this world on screen and off I give my thanks, and a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart who’s gone to soon.”
See Mayhew’s tribute to Baker in full below.
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) August 15, 2016
In a recent interview on his website, Baker recalled that he actually turned down the role of R2-D2 when it was first offered to him, telling George Lucas: “I don’t want to be stuck in a robot, what for, for goodness’ sake?”
Baker was married to wife Eileen from 1970 until her death in 1993. He is survived by their two children.