Star Wars fans all over the world were saddened to hear of the passing of Kenny Baker. At 83, the man inside the R2-D2 robot passed after fighting a long illness. While many of his colleagues voiced their condolences early, it took Peter Mayhew some time to compose his thoughts. It appears that the loss of Baker hit the man who plays Chewbacca quite hard, so it took him longer to find the words to express his sense of loss.
While one might not automatically assume that the biggest and the smallest men on set had much in common, apparently the two were able to bond over each being of an unusual height. Peter Mayhew posted his thoughts to his personal website, where he got a chance to talk about how close the two actors were, and how deeply they understood each other. It’s a heartwarming, and heartbreaking, statement, from a man who has lost a dear friend.
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. 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. 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 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.
While many of Kenny Baker’s other co-stars voiced their regrets, it’s clear that the loss to Peter Mayhew is something very different. While others may have lost a co-worker who they enjoyed working with, Mayhew lost a friend. One can only imagine what their friendship was like. As Mayhew says, their differences in height likely made the two an intriguing pair, but they didn’t let that stop them from becoming friends.
Most people who mourn the loss of Kenny baker, in whatever small way, never knew the man personally. We just knew the man who brought R2-D2 to life. While we may not have known him, Peter Mayhew’s words certainly show us what kind of man the world has lost.