Kenny Baker, the British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars trilogy, has died at the age of 81. First appearing in A New Hope in 1977, Baker reprised his role as the infamous droid in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Other notable films the 3ft 8in tall actor also starred include The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.
“It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless,” Baker’s niece, Abigail Shield, told The Guardian. “He had a very long and fulfilled life. He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”
Shield continued, “When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn’t survive through puberty, being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy. He did extremely well in his life. He was very ill for the last few years so we had been expecting it.”
Baker’s co-stars, including Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor, paid tribute to the actor on Twitter early this morning.