According to Disney, Star Wars: Episode VII is set to begin production and filming in London at the historic Pinewood Studios this May. The film release is currently scheduled for Dec. 18, 2015. The events in the film will begin 30 years after The Return of the Jedi which, in a strange twist of fate, came out 30 years ago. Executives at Disney’s annual shareholders meeting confirmed both the production start date and the fact that one, and only one, cast member is official. That officially confirmed character who will be appearing in the Star Wars VII film will be R2-D2.
Rumors abound about who or what may appear in the film, from appearances of original cast members such as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer, and Mark Hamill, to a bevy of new-to-Star-Wars actors such as Michael B. Jordan, Adam Driver, Jesse Plemons, and Lupita Nyong’o. Additional rumor considers the possibility of seeing a return of the Wookie Chewbacca. The timing of Star Wars VII will put him over 200-years-old, but fans know that Wookies have the ability to live for hundreds of years.
R2-D2, the only confirmed character to date for the upcoming Star Wars VII film, is an astromech droid who, in the film, was manufactured by Industrial Automaton before 32 BBY. For those unaware, BBY stands for Before the Battle of Yavin and is one of the major reference dates in the Galactic Standard Calendar. The Galactic Standard Calendar is used as the galaxy’s standard time measurement and is centered around the Coruscant solar cycle which happens to consist of 24 standard hour days with a year being comprised of 368 of those days. In 32 BBY, R2-D2 found himself serving on Naboo aboard Queen Amidala’s royal starship. Due to his maintenance of the ship as it was under fire, the ship was able to bypass a blockade and flee. Queen Amidala herself recognized and commended R2-D2 and he remained, directly serving her, for another ten years, even as she became senator.
In 22 BBY Anakin Skywalker was under orders to protect then Senator Amidala. With the service of both R2-D2 and C-3PO, Skywalker became part of a battle that began the Clone Wars. When Skywalker became a Jedi Knight, Amidala gifted R2-D2 to him. The droid became the faithful servant and companion of Skywalker and remained with him for many years. After a number of adventures and a variety of misadventures, R2-D2 was eventually entrusted by Leia Organa of the Rebel Alliance to bring the plans for the Death Star to a Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Tatooine. It was during this time that R2-D2 was purchased by Skywalker’s son, Luke and the astromech droid eventually delivered the plans and became companion to Luke Skywalker, which began an entirely new set of adventures.
The adventurous droid weighed in at only 32 kilograms and stood just over one meter high. Part of the R-series product line of astromech droids, he was equipped with a variety of tools. The droid had equipment such as all-terrain treads, rocket boosters, and a retractable third leg to assist him in a variety of ground topographies. His holographic projector was useful in providing Obi-Wan Kenobi the message entrusted to him from Princess Leia. He was additionally equipped with a buzz saw, an electric pike, a fusion welder, a power recharge coupler, and a scomp link. The scomp link allowed R2-D2 to plug into computer terminals or other types of equipment with a rotating tip on the end of an extensible arm.
R2-D2 was designed by Ralph McQuarrie through artwork and developed by both John Stears and Tony Dyson. While R2-D2 will always be a Star Wars character, he has, in fact, made appearances in other films. He can be seen in such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek, Star Trek into Darkness, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The original Star Wars film had two R2-D2 models, one remotely controlled and one that walked on two legs and was worn by the actor Kenny Baker. It has been confirmed that the newest Star Wars film, Star Wars VII, will again see the character of R2-D2.
By Dee Mueller