A Fan Made R2-D2 Confirmed for Star Wars: Episode 7. Practical Creature Effects Team Will be Involved With the Movie!

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The first behind-the-scenes photo from Star Wars: Episode VII hit Twitter last Thursday, featuring director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and a certain blue and white astromech droid — who StarWars.com can now confirm will indeed be in the film.

Some info from StarWars.com about the guys who build the droid that will be used in Episode 7:

Meet Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, Star Wars fans and members of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club. They create fully functioning, film-accurate astromech droids like the R2-D2 seen in the photo, and they’re officially part of the Creature Effects team for Star Wars: Episode VII. They didn’t apply for their jobs, but still had what is probably the best reference one could hope for.

“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,” says Steeples, who finished his first R2-D2 in 2007, after 10 years of collecting parts and researching. “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.”

star wars

Steeples, from Berkshire, England, and Towersey, from Middlesex, England, are working full-time on Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios (where the Twitter photo was taken), focusing solely on astromech-building — for now. Keeping an astromech droid in working condition throughout the production of a film is a challenge, as it’s filled with gears, lights, and electronics; Steeples and Towersey were chosen because of their expertise and experience, both having worked on Star Wars­-themed commercials for the UK appliances megastore Curry’s. 

“We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot,” says Towersey, who built the droid seen in the tweet. “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.” 

Despite their impressive understanding of how to construct an astromech droid and keep it functioning, Steeples and Towersey still have a goal for Star Wars: Episode VII: to build a better R2-D2.

“What we do need to do is improve on the mechanics,” says Towersey. “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.” And while they’re now on the inside of Star Wars moviemaking, the two remain fans at heart.

So now we wait for the C-3PO announcement. There can never be R2-D2 without C-3PO.

The best thing from the article were the words “Creature Effects Team”. It’s great to see that they are going the practical way…

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Founder of SWNN, MNN and The Cantina forums.

Born on April 24, 1980.

Val Trichkov (Viral Hide)

Founder of SWNN, MNN and The Cantina forums.Born on April 24, 1980.

29 thoughts on “A Fan Made R2-D2 Confirmed for Star Wars: Episode 7. Practical Creature Effects Team Will be Involved With the Movie!

  • November 19, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    YES!!! Creature Effects team is a great sign! Hopefully this means less CGI, more puppeteering, stop motion and brilliant costuming. See what I mean when I say JJ knows what he’s doing? This is certainly a step in the right direction.

    • November 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Great news to have this confirmed. Something else to note is that pre-production is now shifting to Pinewood Studios.

  • November 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    The picture at the top is promising! Looks like a gritty, dirty, rusty version of R2D2. That tells me the look of the movie is going to be like the classic triliogy…old, dirty, and lived in!

    • November 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      … Pretty sure that it’s just a random photo. The photo from lucasfilm is the next one haha

    • November 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      It’s a fan made image you idiot

    • November 20, 2013 at 2:38 am

      You guys are really harsh. What’s up with the name calling. You’d think the OP said something about your mothers or something.

  • November 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I don’t see why too much cgi is a bad thing.

    • November 20, 2013 at 2:39 am

      I agree……. Especially since each of the prequels had practical sets, characters and environments mixed with the CGI.

      So Episode 7 should have the same look visually.

    • November 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      The most hilarious thing prequel haters say is that R2D2 looks too CG. ha! ha! Those morons didn’t realize that for most of Episodes I, II, and III, R2 was actually a so-called “practical effect.”

      Haters will always hate.

    • November 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      Does anyone know how much r2d2 was cgi in the prequels & how much it was a prop ? I really can´t tell (except when it it obvious it is cgi) like when he is flying around….

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

    The next question then, is whether or not Kenny Baker will be reprising the R2-D2 role inside the droid.

  • November 20, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Obviously not. Have you ever seen the inside of a fan made R2 unit? There wont be room with all of the gears and gizmos. And why should he be inside? Robitics (especially remote control) have come a longway. He’s not needed.

  • November 20, 2013 at 2:34 am

    A fan made R2-D2 in Episode 7, maybe they will let the 501st be the Stormtroopers in the next installment : )

    Kenny Baker IS NEEDED to give R2-D2 that little something extra to the character!

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I think it would be nice if Kenny gets some sort of role, but realistically you would think the R2 unit will be remote controlled. It’s 2013 now, not 1977. Nostalgia is great but I think even if you asked him (Kenny) it is not ideal for any person to be in that contraption – especially for long periods.

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Well done Kathleen Kennedy ! Bringing in real fans to add to the world we all love so much. This is such a positive. It would have been very easy to just had the job to a big company who, lets be honest chern out hundreds of props & costumes etc for the many blockbuster movies we have every single year now. A couple of guys who love and build amazing droids get their dream job and get to show their love and passion into the movie.
    Kathleen Kennedy said at celebration europe the biggest thing she will take away is how important the fans are and the whole reason Star Wars is here for yet another generation, well this goes to show that the top brass do recognise the fans.

    So I think they are not just looking at the $$$$ they want to make a great Star wars Movie. Lets just put our trust in them folks.

    “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

  • November 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Star wars will kill all movies in 2015 and will be highest grossing movie of the year and may be even highest grossing movie of all time. Star Wars won’t be just entertaining like marvels and DC films! Expect a lot of mythology in it with master of mythology and best sci fi creator JJ Abrams(more mythology than in original trilogy) and great new characters with SW original writer like Lawrence Kasdan! This will be best sci fi movie of the decade. I want to see kings of the Sith species & sith kingdom( homeworld- Korriban) will be insane! Star Wars never show us that. If darth vedar is there even for one second will be best news ever. More sith lords like darth vader/darth maul(they are fan favorite of all time)! And female sith lord sound outstanding cool!!! I hope they create one as darth malgus(really like his face costume etc) and may be one new hot sith with mask helm etc. Like raven.I want the humour, great story, the mythology, war, evil and good, and the magic that made up star wars. The war between Sith and Jedi is amazing and what makes Star Wars greatest sci fi franchise of all time.NO politics.

    A bearded Hamill, training new jedi & to see Leia as a jedi also.

    I want too see an original story, something NEW, not anything from the EU (although i don´t care if the borrow names from it)

    Hopefully familiar design from original trilogy on vehicles etc. .. Hopefully forceghosts: Obi Wan, Qui Gon, Anakin & YODA (as a puppet) & as many as possible from the orginal cast, to see what has happened to their lives.

    & i want lightsaber duels with some new lightsaber colours and lightsaber models.

    & finally i would very much like to see Warwick Davis in many roles & maybe wicket decides to leave endor & travel in space with the crew of millennium falcon? & yes, as much screentime as possible for siths, jedi & new wookie!!!

    • November 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Are you cutting and pasting your comments, or do you just have a copy at ready to type by your computer?

    • November 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      God damn it! What the hell man?

    • November 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      If they actually make the movie that you keep pitching over and over in every freakin’ post on this site, I will abandon Star Wars forever. Wicket traveling with the Millennium Falcon? I couldn’t think this stupid if I tried…..

    • November 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      *SIGH* & the last bits he had copied & pasted from me (many times) it was from an question over a month ago or more, where someone asked what we would like to see in the movie… -Having it out of context just looks silly & stupid 🙁 🙁 🙁

      But i still think that Mark Hamill should have a beard 🙂

    • November 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Who are you and what the hell are you talking about?

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