British actor Kenny Baker, the man who portrayed one of science fiction’s most iconic robots, R2-D2, has passed away according to The Guardian. He was 81 years old.
Baker first portrayed the character due to his height — three feet, eight inches. "I got the job right away," he told interviewers. He endured extreme temperatures inside the robotic prop during filming, but returned to play the robot again in the Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, as well as the later prequel trilogy. He was listed in the credits for The Force Awakens as "R2-D2 Consultant."
Baker was born in Birmingham in 1934, and began acting at the age of 16, joining a number of troupes before getting his break in 1977. He also appeared in films such as Flash Gordon, The Elephant Man, Time Bandits, Goodies, and other notable films throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Baker’s niece, Abigail Shield, told The Guardian that he had been ill for a number of years. "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."
Correction: this post originally stated that Baker had a role in Goonies. He had actually starred in Goodies.