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R2-D2

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R2-D2
Droid type Astromech droid
Manufacturer Industrial Automaton
Gender Masculine programming 1
Height 960 mm (3'2")
Sensor color Blue and white
Home planet Naboo
Master (owner) Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, Captain Raymus Antilles, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker
Affiliation Galactic Republic, Rebel Alliance, New Republic
For the weapons system nicknamed "R2-D2", see Phalanx CIWS.

R2-D2 (called R2, or "Artoo" for short), is an astromech droid and colleague of C-3PO in the fictional Star Wars universe, created not long before 32 BBY. R2-D2 was played by Kenny Baker in all six Star Wars films, with many scenes filmed using mechanical and computer-generated imagery (CGI) versions of the character. R2 is the only character (despite being a non-living droid) to appear in all six Star Wars films, without changes to appearance or speech, unlike his colleague C-3PO, who, in Phantom Menace, did not yet have the gold plating he'd boast for all his other appearances. Along with his resourcefulness, R2 had many tool-tipped appendages that allowed him to be a great starship mechanic and computer interface specialist. A light droid, R2 would often enter dangerous situations without second thought. This adventurous streak has saved the day on numerous occasions, often turning the tide of galactic history.

R2 is barrel-like in shape, with a rotating dome which functions as his head, complete with a single robotic eye. He has three appendages, which enable him to walk, and on each appendage there are wheels he uses for locomotion. Unlike his Protocol droid counterpart C-3PO, R2-D2 cannot speak but communicates with a series of beeps, whistles, and warbles, which 3PO can interpret. His masters also seem to have an understanding of what he seems to want to communicate.

In The Phantom Menance, R2-D2 is a droid belonging to the Naboo army, and helps repair Queen Padmé Amidala's starship as it attempts to get past the Trade Federation blockade. Later, R2 becomes part of Qui-Gon Jinn's party in Tatooine and meets C-3PO and Anakin Skywalker. Later, he serves as the astromech droid for Anakin's starfighter during the attack on the Trade Federation Droid Control Ship.

Ten years later, in Attack of the Clones, R2 is still in Padmé Amidala's possession, and he accompanies Anakin and Padmé to Naboo when her life is threatened, and then to Tatooine when Anakin tries to rescue his mother. Here, he is reunited with C-3PO, and the two get into various misadventures on Geonosis. This includes a bizarre accident where C-3PO's head is knocked off his body. The head is placed on the body of a battle droid, and a battle droid head is placed on C-3PO's body. R2 later takes C-3PO's head and restores it to his body during the Battle of Geonosis. He and C-3PO are later witnesses to Anakin and Padmé's secret wedding.

In Revenge of the Sith, R2 helps Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi in their mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku's capital ship. He is attacked by Super battle droids, but manages to defeat both of them through ingenious tactics. R2 accompanies Anakin throughout the rest of the movie, but does not play a large part in events. Later, C-3PO's memory is wiped clean to keep the knowledge of the locations of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa a secret from their father, who has fallen to the dark side and become Darth Vader. Due to his inability to communicate verbally, however, R2-D2's memory is not wiped. It should be noted though that in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, R2 communicates with Luke on the trip to Dagobah via the computer screen of Luke's X-wing starfighter. This lack of memory wipe makes R2 the only character by the end of Return of the Jedi who knows the entire story of the Skywalker family. Both R2 and C-3PO end up in the possession of Captain Raymus Antilles onboard the blockade runner Tantive IV at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

In A New Hope, both R2-D2 and C-3PO are on board the Tantive IV along with Princess Leia of Alderaan, now an adult, when they come under attack by the Star Destroyer Devastator. Leia slips R2-D2 a disc containing a distress message and the plans for the Death Star battle station.

Once again on the planet Tatooine, R2 and 3PO are abducted by Jawas and bought by Owen Lars, adoptive uncle of Luke Skywalker. Luke discovers a part of the hidden message but does not act on it, and R2 escapes on his own to seek out Obi-Wan Kenobi. Soon Luke is forced to leave Tatooine with Obi-Wan, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and they attempt to deliver R2-D2 to the Rebel Alliance. Along the way, they are captured by the Death Star, but eventually rescue Leia and escape. R2-D2 delivers the plans to the Alliance, and becomes Luke's astromech droid during the attack on the station. R2 is severely damaged during the battle, but is restored before the awards ceremony at the end of the film.

In The Empire Strikes Back R2 accompanies Luke to Dagobah and later to Cloud City, where he again helps to rescue and repair a heavily damaged C-3PO. He also manages to fix the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive, resulting in a last-minute escape from the Empire.

In Return Of The Jedi R2-D2 participates in the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, and later joins the Rebel strike team on Endor. He helps to bring down the deflector shield so the fleet can destroy the new Death Star.

Contents

Behind the scenes

After Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, computer animation was more advanced, so this allowed R2 to be computer animated in many scenes of the following Prequels.

There were a total of 15 R2-D2s on the set of Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Eight were radio-controlled; 2 were worn by Baker; the remainder were stunt models that could be moved by puppet strings or towed by wires.

The sound effects for R2-D2's "voice" were created by sound designer Ben Burtt, using an ARP 2600 analog music synthesizer, as well as his own vocalizations processed through other effects.

Analysis

The two droids establish the comic relief of the series. However, R2 is decisive and courageous in comparison to C-3PO, who tends to panic and dither in the face of danger. For instance, in A New Hope when they realized that their human companions were in jeopardy in a crushing trash compactor, C-3PO was in a panic while R2-D2 quietly and quickly set to work to stop the machine. There has also been speculation as to whether R2-D2 has some special relationship with the Force, due to the fact that R2, in multiple instances throughout the movie series, is able to calmly roll through a firefight without a scratch (exceptions being the battle of Yavin, the escape from Cloud city [when he is electrocuted], and the battle of Endor). Given that affinity for the Force is based on symbiotic creatures that live within living cells it is impossible by the laws of the Star Wars universe for a non-biological entity to have any affinity with the Force, leading to the conclusion that R2-D2 is simply very lucky, goes unnoticed by Imperial troops (who may understandably be more concentrated on the armed Rebels) or that the Imperial Stormtroopers are truly awful shots (see Stormtrooper effect)

A notable possible plot hole between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope is that, during Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, R2-D2 has rocket boosters that allow him to fly, but from A New Hope onward these boosters are not used, leading some to conclude that they are not present. The magazine, Star Wars Insider Issue 62, explains that R2's manufacturers at Industrial Automation had limited their factory warranty on astromech rockets to about 20 years, which would explain why R2 doesn't have his rockets in the Original Trilogy. He also had another set of rockets in a cut scene in The Phantom Menace, where he falls off a Coruscant landing platform, only to be saved by his rockets.

It should be noted that in "A New Hope" R2 is severely damaged in the final battle and must be rebuilt. It is possible many of his gadgets were reconfigured during this reconstruction, including the removal of rocket boosters. The only scene in the original trilogy where R2's lack of rockets is an issue is in Return of the Jedi, when the little droid jumps off Jabba's barge rather than fly off.

Another potential plot hole would be the fact that R2-D2 is not recognized by Obi-Wan Kenobi when R2 leaves the Skywalker ranch to find him. However, one possible explanation is that Obi-Wan did recognize R2, as he refers to him as "little friend," but does not make this indication in front of Luke, who at the time does not know his true family history. It could simply be that all R2 units, like any mass-produced good, look more or less the same except for their paint job, and Obi-Wan assumes that he is talking to an R2 unit with the same color scheme as Anakin's droid. These matters, of course, are left for each viewer's interpretation.

R2 is present at the weddings of two generations of Skywalkers: Anakin and Padmé in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Luke and Mara Jade two decades after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

R2 Saves the Day

At least once in every film of the Star Wars Trilogy, R2-D2 performs a droid function that rescues one or more of the series’ human protagonists.

  • Episode I: In his introductory scene, R2 restores power to the shields protecting Queen Amidala’s space cruiser as she and her protectors flee Naboo.
  • Episode II: Stops the production line in the droid factory, saving Padme from being burned alive by molten metal.
  • Episode III: Aids Obi-Wan and Anakin while they are trapped in an elevator aboard General Grievous’ ship.
  • Episode IV: Stops a trash compactor from crushing Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca on the Death Star.
  • Episode V: Reactivates the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive allowing Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca to escape capture by the Imperial Fleet.
  • Episode VI: Conceals Luke’s lightsaber in one of his compartments and passes it to him, allowing Luke to rescue Han and their companions from Jabba the Hutt.

R2-D2 in popular culture

Inspiration

  • Lucas has stated that Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress (USA release 1962) was a strong influence, particularly, Tahei and Matakishi, the two goofy, buffoonish characters that serve as sidekicks to General Makabe.
  • R2-D2 was partly inspired by the robots Huey, Dewey and Louie from Douglas Trumbull's 1972 film Silent Running.
  • The name is said to derive from when Lucas was making one of his earlier films, American Graffiti. Sound editor Walter Murch states that he is responsible for the utterance which sparked the name for the droid. Murch asked for Reel 2, Dialog Track 2, in the abbreviated form 'R-2-D-2'. Lucas, who was in the room working on the script for Star Wars, heard the request and, after asking for clarification, stated that it was a "great name". [1]
  • In some Spanish-speaking countries R2-D2 is frequently referred to as Arturito (little Arthur), since it sounds similar to the English Artoodeetoo.
  • Around the same time that A New Hope was being shot, Ray Harryhausen had already created Bubo for the 1981 film Clash of the Titans. It was a metal owl with a big head that flew heavily and made whistles and tweets. However Lucas and Harryhausen found about each other's work when it was already started.

Expanded Universe

Popularity

  • R2-D2 was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003.
  • R2-D2 is one of the most well-loved characters in the Star Wars universe. He is especially well-received by the younger fans due to his unthreatening short stature (960 mm) and "kid-friendly" design.
  • Ewan McGregor, the actor portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, said in an interview, "As soon as Artoo-Detoo comes on the set, everyone goes a bit silly." He recalled how his then four-year-old daughter announced she was in love with R2-D2, and then confessed his own affections for the astromech: "...there is something about him that makes you feel great affection for him. I think it is a combination of his shape, his high-pitched voice. He's just incredibly appealing. In fact, I believe he is George [Lucas]'s favorite actor." Lucas confirms this in the audio commentary of the Episode: III DVD.

Notable Appearances (outside the Star Wars series)

  • R2-D2 and C-3PO guest starred in a series of segments on the children's television show Sesame Street, aired in 1980.
  • Together with Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO appeared on The Muppet Show.
  • R2 and 3PO have appeared in numerous Star Wars-based commercials, television specials, and productions.
  • In the book Norby, the Mixed-up Robot, the barrel-shaped robot Norby is called an "R2" model, apparently after R2-D2.
  • In the book Wizard's Bane, by Rick Cook, the main character creates a spell in the shape of a robot called 'RD square square'. (RD 22)
  • R2 appears along with 3PO and Chewbacca in a parody ending of A New Hope in an episode of Family Guy titled Blind Ambition.

Notes

  1. Wallace, Daniel. (2002). Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Characters. Del Rey. p.138. ISBN 0345449002. Note: Canon sources are mixed as to whether R2-D2 has a gender, but Wallace (an official source) indicates that the droid has masculine programming.
  • R2-D2 and C-3PO are the only beings to survive all six movies.
  • In Italy, R2-D2's name was changed to C1-P8 in the original trilogy, while it re-assumed the original name in the prequel trilogy.

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