2:50pm PT by Aaron Couch
Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Remembers Kenny Baker: "My Little Friend With the Giant Heart"
Peter Mayhew is remembering his late friend and Star Wars co-star Kenny Baker, who died Saturday.
"I know I'm a bit late with this, but my sadness is profound and no words seemed adequate to convey what we collectively and I personally have lost with the passing of my dear friend Kenny Baker," Mayhew wrote on his website of Baker, who played the droid R2-D2 in the first six Star Wars films. "Kenny and I became fast friends the first time we met and formed a lifelong bond after realizing that we had so much in common."
The pair were known to have formed among the closest friendships of anyone on Star Wars. Mayhew, who stands 7 feet 2 inches tall, said people often noted the height difference between him and his friend, who was 3 feet 8 inches.
"Although people liked to contrast the difference in our heights, we found we shared many of the same struggles, from finding clothes, driving cars and fitting in airplane seats to health issues and the ever constant stares of strangers; we understood each other on a level that few others can," Mayhew wrote. "I am so very glad I got to spend time with him in London earlier this month. His talent and his wicked sense of humor never diminished even as his health did. Ever the showman, Kenny was always eager to meet his fans. In the decades we knew each other, I never met anyone who enjoyed the public more. For all the joy he brought this world on screen and off I give my thanks, and a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart who's gone to soon. Rest in Peace Kenny.
Baker died at 81 after a long illness. Others in the Star Wars universe also have paid tribute to the actor.
"Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination He WAS the droid I was looking for," Mark Hamill tweeted Saturday.
Star Wars creator George Lucas called him "a real gentleman as well as an incredible trooper who always worked hard under difficult circumstances."
In a 2004 interview with The Hollywood Reporter awards analyst Scott Feinberg, the actor recalled auditioning for Star Wars — and why he initially said no.
"I just jumped into the robot. And I didn’t enjoy it at all, I didn’t like it all. I didn’t think it was gonna be very successful," said Baker. "So I turned it down about three times … I thought, 'Well, I’d rather not be stuck in a robot, to be honest.' But they talked me into it and, as we all know now, it was a big success."