An interview with…Kenny Baker

Most well known for his role as R2-D2, the plucky little astromech droid from Star Wars, actor Kenny Baker has defied the odds made it big in an industry where size actually matters.

Kenny, who stands at 3ft 8in tall, has always used his small size to his advantage. His only logical move was to go into Show Business, and soon he was spotted by a young budding film director named George Lucas. Lucas snapped Kenny up to star in the original Star Wars movie A New Hope, and he was quickly signed to the films two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

The films turned out to be unparalleled box office hits, and to this day remain very high up in the charts of the highest rating films of all time.

In 1999 Kenny was approached and asked to reprise his role for the prequels to the original Star Wars saga, and over the course of the late 90’s and early 00’s Star Wars, R2-D2 and Kenny Baker became as loved and celebrated as they were decades before.

There have been countless stories of off screen animosity between Kenny and fellow Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels (who plays C-3PO). Despite the pairs on screen characters being the best of friends, the pair have maintained their frosty relationship since the very first Star Wars film was made in 1977.

Kenny has worked hard and managed to stand tall and become one of the most successful small actors in the business.

He was happy to answer some of my questions:

How did you get into acting?

I don’t believe I ever “got into acting” as I don’t regard myself as an actor – more of an entertainer. I was performing in a comedy musical duo called the Minitones when my agent informed me that an American film producer was in London looking for a small guy to be inside a robot. I went for a meeting with George Lucas who just took one look at me and said “You’ll do”. I turned the part down several times because the Minitones were very busy and my face wouldn’t be seen plus everyone I spoke to didn’t believe it could possibly be successful.

What has it been like starring in Star Wars, which is one of the most successful and loved films ever?

Until the early to mid 1990’s I thought it was just another piece of work and it was only when the conventions started to take off that the whole Star Wars phenomenon started to grow. Obviously when I was required to attend more and more things to do with Star Wars and people who had grown up watching the films started to introduce their children to it I realised just what it meant to so many other people. 

What are your feelings on the reported feuds between yourself and Anthony Daniels?

The so called feud has been blown out of all proportion and I absolutely detested the Justin Lee Collins Bring back Star Wars programme where it was clear that Collins was out to sensationalise the situation. Daniels has no time for any of the other actors not just me, and none of them have a good word to say about him. However I maintain that I don’t hate Daniels, in fact I don’t hate anyone as it just isn’t in my nature. I just don’t like him and have never understood what his problem is. Other than Daniels thinks he was the greatest gift to George Lucas and I was merely a nobody who operated a robot’s controls and didn’t contribute anything from an acting perspective.

Has your size helped or hindered you in your career?

When you are born a dwarf there are very few opportunities available to you so being able to be successful at entertaining for over 60 years can’t have done me too much harm. Obviously being disabled by having short arms and stubby fingers means I’m limited with what I’m able to do as I’m physically unable to lift or carry things.

Have there been any parts of your career that you regret?

I have absolutely no regrets and have thoroughly enjoyed my life in Show Business.

If you could have any other career in the world, what would it be and why?

I would like to have been a draughtsman like my father as I’m is quite artistic, but my physical disability won’t allow me to do that.

 Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into acting?

Not really. I didn’t really choose to go into acting but was unable to do very much else so I made the most of what life has offered me. I have never ever felt exploited because of my size, in fact quite the opposite; I have exploited the natural assets I was born with.

Thanks for answering my questions.

You’re welcome, thanks.

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