Entertainment & Arts

Chewbacca star pays tribute to R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker

Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker Image copyright AP/PA
Image caption Peter Mayhew (left) said Kenny Baker (right) had "a wicked sense of humour"

Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has paid tribute to his friend and Star Wars co-star Kenny Baker, who died at the weekend at the age of 81.

"I know I'm a bit late with this, but my sadness is profound," Mayhew wrote on his website.

"No words seemed adequate to convey what we... have lost with the passing of my dear friend Kenny Baker."

Baker played the droid R2-D2 in the first six Star Wars films and formed a close friendship with Mayhew.

'Giant heart'

"Kenny and I became fast friends the first time we met and formed a lifelong bond after realising that we had so much in common," Mayhew said.

Many had passed comment about the pair's contrasting heights over the years - Baker stood at 3ft 8in (1.12m), while Mayhew is 7ft 2in (2.18m).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Baker was a consultant on The Force Awakens

Mayhew wrote: "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.

"I am so very glad I got to spend time with him in London earlier this month. His talent and his wicked sense of humour 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.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Actor Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca the Wookie in the first three Star Wars films with Baker

"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."

After starring in the original Star Wars film, Baker went on to appear in the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and the three prequels between 1999 and 2005.

He later appeared at Star Wars fan conventions across the world.

He was a consultant on the last Star Wars production - The Force Awakens - but actor Jimmy Vee was already lined up to take on the role of R2-D2 in the next film, due for release in 2017.

Baker's agent Johnny Mans said the actor had been ill for a couple of years.

Baker was a father of two and his wife Eileen died in 1993.

He also appeared on screen in Mona Lisa, Amadeus and The Elephant Man.

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