5 fun facts to know about the new actor playing R2D2
Jimmy Vee is taking over the 'Star Wars' role in 'The Last Jedi.'
The beloved "Star Wars" character R2D2, originally played by the late British actor Kenny Baker, has a new man behind the controls.
Jimmy Vee, a longtime stuntman and character actor in such productions as "Harry Potter," "Pan" and the "Doctor Who" series, has officially been named as Baker's successor going forward.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to have worked alongside the legendary Kenny Baker," Vee said in a statement. "Kenny was a fantastic actor and taught me all the 'tricks' on how he brought R2-D2 to life which I will continue to portray in his honor."
Vee's official credit as R2D2 will begin in "The Last Jedi," the latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise helmed by American director Rian Johnson and his longtime partner Ram Bergman, a prolific Israeli producer.
"I'm so excited to be a part of the Star Wars universe and can't wait for everyone to see what we've been working so hard on for the last year," he added.
Below are a few facts about Jimmy Vee to chew on ahead of "The Last Jedi's" release on Dec. 15.
He appeared in 'The Force Awakens' as R2D2
While "The Last Jedi" will stand as the first official time Vee has taken on the role of R2D2, he actually had an uncredited appearance as the droid in 2015's "The Force Awakens." In an interview with the Scottish Sun, Vee recalled some of the tips given by Baker while the two were on set together.
“He told me that the movements inside should be subtle. You don’t need to overdo it," he said. "Kenny also warned that you don’t want to topple it. The R2 unit weighs about 60kg and I weigh 35kg."
While the official announcement for Vee as Artoo only recently became public, fans following every rumor over "The Last Jedi" have actually suspected his involvement for quite some time. Spy reports from the set of "The Last Jedi" on Irish island Skellig Michael in September 2015 reported to show both Vee, American actor Mark Hamill and British star Daisy Ridley shooting scenes.
He's not well-versed in the 'Star Wars' universe
Despite taking on one of the most iconic roles in the world of science fiction, Vee isn't exactly a "Star Wars" super fan. When asked in December 2015 about this interest in the franchise, he admitted that he's only seen a couple of films.
"I’ve watched two or three movies but nothing much," he told the Daily Record. "Compared to some of the fans of Star Wars I couldn’t tell you anything. I said before I know there’s a guy with a sword in it and I think that’s about it.”
With his knowledge of lightsabers even lacking, it's safe to say that Vee will avoid the kind of harassment over plot details that Daisy Ridley has amusingly been forced to endure.
He regularly appears on 'Doctor Who'
Since 2005, Vee has appeared as five different monsters and aliens on the acclaimed British series "Doctor Who." These have included such memorable roles as the "Moxx of Balhoon," a "Space Pig" and the impossible-to-pronounce-with-a-straight-face "Bannakaffalatta." No stranger to the action figure scene, he's also been immortalized in plastic toys as all of the above characters.
He was Warwick Davis's stunt double
Vee actually got his start in Hollywood as a stunt double for acclaimed English actor Warwick Davis in "Willow." The two have also appeared in the "Harry Potter" franchise (with Vee playing a Goblin in "The Sorcerer's Stone") and will once again be reunited in "The Last Jedi."
For Davis, who won the hearts of children everywhere playing the Ewok "Wicket" in "Return of the Jedi," the opportunity to participate in yet another "Star Wars" film was apparently just too good to pass up. While it's yet to be revealed what his role exactly will be, it's pretty great to see both him and Vee sharing screen time together.
He filmed a horror-themed game show with Eli Roth
One of the more bizarre projects Vee has ever tackled came in the form of a horror-themed gameshow called "Release the Hounds." The series, based on the successful British television contest of the same name, involves contestants taking part in gory and all-around unpleasant challenges. At the end of each round, the players have to run an obstacle course while being pursued by snarling dogs.
Vee co-starred in the American version of the series alongside acclaimed American horror filmmaker Eli Roth. As he explained in an interview, the series has yet to see the light of day in North America because of one big reason.
"The story behind it was that it was a bit too scary," he explained. "I was the sidekick to Eli Roth and went around picking the contestants up and driving them round the buggy and to the next game and taking them back to the dungeon and things. Eli was a good laugh and had the same sense of humor as myself so we could talk about anything and have a laugh.”
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