Ever since R2-D2 first rolled on-screen in 1977’s Star Wars, the lovable hi-tech trashcan has held a special place in fans’ hearts. To many, R2-D2 is every bit as alive as any of Star Wars‘ human characters, and the little guy had a lot of different fathers. George Lucas thought up the basic concept and personality, Ralph McQuarrie designed him, and little person actor Kenny Baker played him on screen, but it was a British professor named Tony Dyson who actually built R2-D2.
Dyson owned The While Horse Toy Company, a studio that created props and practical effects for a wide range of movies, including Moonraker, Superman III and, of course, Star Wars. Dyson was commissioned to create several versions of R2, some of which Kenny Baker sat or stood inside and operated, and others which were fully remote-controlled. Creating R2 took nearly five months, which Dyson has described as “one of the most exciting periods of my life.” Later in life, Dyson would turn to creating real droids, building fully-functional robots for Sony and Toshiba.
Sadly, Dyson was recently found deceased in his home, located on the Mediterranean Island of Gozo. He was 68, and it’s believed he passed away of natural causes. Of course, for fans, he will live on forever through R2-D2, which truly was the droid we were looking for.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)