The first official character of J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars Episode VII is none other than everyone’s favorite droid, R2-D2. Shortly after Bad Robot released a photo of Abrams posing with the lovable droid, the rumors started up that it was going to appear in the movie. Now, the rumor has been confirmed by Lucasfilm, as well as details on who built the droid.
The new R2-D2 was built by fans Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, who met Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy at a Star Wars Celebration. They went from fans to full-time members of the Episode VII Creature Effects team. Steeples told the Official Star Wars Blog about meeting Kennedy for the first time.
“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany. 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…It’s a dream come true, and 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.””
Prior to landing this dream job, Towersey and Steeples has made R2-D2s for fan events and commercial purposes. Towersey talked about the technical side of building and designing the droid.
“What we do need to do is improve on the mechanics. 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.”
It’s nice to hear that Kennedy gave these two fan boys a shot. She literally took their word for it, and gave them the job of a lifetime. In the photo below, you can see R2-D2, Abrams, Kennedy, and the the two luck fans. Check it out:
Star Wars Episode VII opens December 18, 2015.
What do you think? Are you excited to have R2-D2 back in the mix?