We've lost R2. Actor Kenny Baker, aka lovable droid R2-D2, in the '70s.

We’ve lost R2. Actor Kenny Baker, aka lovable droid R2-D2, in the ’70s.

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Kenny Baker, the man who brought the much-loved R2-D2 droid to life in the Star Wars films, passed away at the age of 81 following a long period of illness.

Baker’s death was reported by The Guardian on Saturday, with his niece Abigail Shield telling the publication that the news was expected but sad.

“He had a very long and fulfilled life. He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime,” Shield said.

Baker, standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, first hopped inside the shell of R2-D2 for 1977’s “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and went on to play R2 in five other Star Wars films. He also played roles in 1980’s “The Elephant Man,” 1981’s “Time Bandits,” 1988’s “Willow” and 1999’s “The King and I.”

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, tweeted out high praise to Baker Saturday afternoon.

Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects studio for the Star Wars films, also tweeted out The Guardian’s report, noting that “the galaxy weeps for our friend Kenny Baker.”

20th Century Fox, a studio involved in the making of the original Star Wars trilogy, posted condolences on Twitter:

Correction, 11:33 a.m. PT:Baker was 81 when he died.

Update, 1:03 p.m. PT: Added tweets from Mark Hamill and Industrial Light & Magic.

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Kenny Baker, the actor inside Star Wars' beloved R2-D2, passes away – CNET