'Star Wars: Episode VII' Hires R2-D2 Builders Fans for Droid Creation
by Ethan Anderton
November 19, 2013
For anyone who ever thought that die-hard fans were crazy for recreating costumes, props, etc., here's a story to shut them up. Just recently, we featured the first behind the scenes photo from Star Wars: Episode VII featuring J.J. Abrams at the production workshop with Kathleen Kennedy, two other dudes, and everyone's favorite astromech droid, R2-D2. Many outlets took this as confirmation that the droid would return for the sequel, which wasn't a surprise, and now that fact has been confirmed along with some cool news about the team who will be working on the practical droid creation for the production now.
To refresh your memory, here's the photo posted from the Bad Robot Twitter account:
The two men standing with Abrams and Kennedy are Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples. You probably don't know them at all, but they're huge Star Wars fans who are part of the R2-D2 Builders Club, a community that exchanges information related to building the robots of the Star Wars films, most notably R2-D2. Now Lucasfilm has announced that the two have been hired to work at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom full time, focusing solely on astromech-building for the production. So how the hell did two Star Wars fans get hired to work on the set of Star Wars: Episode VII? Steeples explains:
“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.”
Towersey added, "We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot. We have a good knowledge of Artoo, with a large stock of parts for reference and drawings, plus we know what is involved throughout the whole building process, as well as potential problems we need to avoid.” At least we know that R2-D2 is in good hands, and it sounds like we'll be getting plenty other astromech droids in this film if this has turned into a full time job for the duo. It's pretty awesome that hardcore fans following their hobby turned obsession can get a job like this. Disney sends Star Wars: Episode VII to theaters everywhere on December 18th, 2015.