Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Could the Frosty Relationship Between Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker Cause Problems on Star Wars: Episode 7?

When you think of Star Wars you can’t help but think about the lovable, laughable droids R2-D2 and C-3P0. In fact the two actors who’ve brought our favorite misfit droids to life are the only two actors to appear in all six Star Wars films to date. However, it appears that streak may be coming to an unfortunate end . . .

Last week I reported that Kenny Baker may be bowing-out of Star Wars Episode VII due to health reasons. As you’ll recall David Prowse, the body of Darth Vader during the OT and one of Kenny’s close friends, spoke to Movie Cricket:
“Kenny Baker is really ill. How he is going to reprise his role, I do not know.”

“I can’t see it. He is in such a terrible state with his terrible chest. I can’t honestly see it… though I mean, they could put him in the unit and he doesn’t have to do it all.”
It seems logical that if Mr. Baker is in poor health there is no necessity for him to reprise his role as R2. After all the man is 79 years old and getting stuffed into a mechanically cumbersome costume can’t be all that much fun anymore. Also, with today’s technology a remote controlled R2 is much more feasible as is CGI for those really daring rocket shots. Recall one of Viral Hide’s great articles from last year about the new R2 units:
The final improvement for Celebration Europe is a dome automation controller. Usually, we control the dome with our remotes, but in certain situations, it is good to have your mind and your hands free to drive the droid, while the dome turns on its own in a random pattern. This is achieved by a very small electronic gadget called a “servo controller” that consists of an Arduino microcontroller with a C++ software program. A switch on my remote enables me to select between auto mode (dome turns on its own) or manual mode (I control the rotation).

Together with the “beeping” the random dome movement makes Artoo look so much more “alive.” And that’s what we strive for; getting Artoo to become alive at Celebration Europe.

With all this excellent, new technology for building R2 units conducted by super-fans Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples it seems highly unlikely that Kenny Baker could even fit inside anymore. It just might be too impractical to begin with.

So why then did Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd. announce him with the cast, knowing his current health issues? Could it have been a symbolic gesture? Could it have been to reassure fans that they’re going “old school?” Well, we probably will never know why they Officially Announced his participation with the movie on April 29th if he’s physically unable to appear.

However, it could be that it’s not a physical issue at all, but a personality issue as Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels have had a long-standing, and well-known feud, dating back to the original Star Wars of 1977. Perhaps, at age 79, Kenny no longer has the patience to deal with the “prissy one???”

Yahoo! Movies recently posted an article describing the feud between the two actors, citing such anecdotes:
“I remember one day, [Kenny] was in the costume, and I said to him ‘when I say the line, can you turn the head to look at me?’, but he hadn’t read the script,” Daniels mused on ‘Bring Back Star Wars’. 

“I was doing a typical stage actor thing, but he had no idea what I was talking about. So I just stopped, I didn’t bother.”
Artoo where are you?
Apparently the feud grew so bad that the two actors refuse to make public appearances together:
“The last time I spoke to him was in Boston and he was in front of me. I said ‘Did you have a nice weekend Tony?’ He said ‘I’m having a conversation,’ and walked away. He wasn’t talking to anybody. I could have hit him.” he added on ‘Bring Back Star Wars’.
The two regularly appear at fan conventions, but never together. On the Channel 4 documentary, Collins asks Baker to appear at a cast reunion. The pint-sized actor agreed, but on one condition.

“It depends. If you invite his lordship, the one with the golden balls. If he comes, I won’t be there.” 
Kenny claims that the feud has been blown out of proportions on one hand, yet continues to stoke the fire himself:
“I thought it was just me he didn’t get on with but recently I’ve found out he doesn’t get on with anyone,” Baker told the Metro. “He’s rude to everyone though, including the fans [...] 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.”

Whatever the reasons may be as to why the two actors can’t be friends we know that they’re both professionals and have never let their personal feelings get in the way of the job, moreover, the performance. If anything, their feud informs their performances as even the droid duo don’t always see eye-to-eye. It goes without saying, though, that Kenny Baker would be sorely missed if he can’t, or won’t, reprise his role for whatever reason.

Of course we’ll all stay tuned for further developments, but here’s hoping their long, successful streak continues!