Secrets of the Star Wars Galaxy: How a University Prof Built R2-D2
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A professor at England’s Coventry University has recently revealed how he helped build the loveable robot R2-D2 for the 1980 and 1983 installments of the Star Wars film franchise.
Professor John Jostins of Coventry University’s Sustainable Transport Design faculty, was inspired by the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to reveal precisely which materials and mechanics were used to make the robot appear space-age back in the 1980s.
“It was a really difficult and fiddly thing to make with the technology available […] it wasn’t easy to replicate,” he explains. Multiple R2-D2s were made to do different tasks in the film and withstand general wear-and-tear, so Jostins says he “literally had lines of R2-D2s being made for a good six or seven months.”
He says the 1980s R2-D2s weren’t as hi-tech as one might expect: rain boots and a child’s car seat from British department store Woolworths (“Woolies”) all went into the bot’s construction.
While the outside was a “metal-bashed model” with moulded composite parts, the interior was all designed for the comfort of Kenny Baker, the actor who brings R2-D2 to life.
“He operated everything from inside, responding to the other actors, turning the head, flashing the lights, doing the arms and getting excited. We had to fix some towel rails inside for him to hold on to—they were also from Woolies! We were really making it up as we went along.”
The odds and ends involved in R2-D2’s construction have only added to the character’s famous charm and the ultimate success of its franchise—Star Wars: The Force Awakens just grossed $529 million in its opening weekend, breaking box office records worldwide.
Source: Coventry Telegraph