R2-D2

It’s official. The first character has been 100%, officially confirmed for Star Wars Episode VII. It’s R2-D2, the blue astromech droid purchased by Luke Skywalker on Tatooine so many years ago, which also so happened to be Luke’s mother’s favorite droid years before that.

The Bad Robot twitter feed posted an image of R2 with Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy last week, but today not only confirmed he’ll be in the film, they revealed he was built by two fans, Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, who met Kennedy at a Star Wars Celebration. Read more below.

Star Wars JJ R2 D2

Towersey and Steeples are the other men seen above and are currently in London, which is where the above photo was taken, working as full time members of the Episode VII Creature Effects team.

“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,”  Steeples told the Official Star Wars Blog. “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.”

While Towersey and Steeples are long time R2-D2 builders, both for fan events and commercial purposes, working on an actual Star Wars movie means they can go a step further.

“What we do need to do is improve on the mechanics,” Towersey said. “We’re currently in a research and design phase where we’re looking at drive options for reliability on all possible terrains, whether it be a one-motor-does-all, or a system which is easily adjusted depending on terrain. We have a few mocked up ideas which we hope to road test very soon.”

As fans first and formost, Steeples also the site he knows it’s impossible to live up to expectations.  “It’s a dream come true,” he said. “Aand I hope I can live up to the expectations of the thousands of R2-D2 Builders around the world, let alone the millions of Star Wars fans.”

One down, a few dozen to go. R2-D2 is in Star Wars Episode VII. That surely suggests the original characters and stories will carry over in some major way, does it not?

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