Last week, the first behind-the-scenes picture from Star Wars: Episode VII hit the Internet, and we were all pretty excited that R2-D2 was the first thing they revealed. Even better, it turns out that the two guys in the photo with director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy are fan-droid-creators Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples.
Towersey and Steeples have been creating their own droids for years as part of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club. They got their shot to work on the films directly from Kennedy, who toured the R2 Builders area at Star Wars Celebration in Germany over the summer. According to Steeples, Kennedy was very complimentary of their work on the film-accurate, completely functional droids.
By completely functional, we mean electrically and mechanically functional, not “roam the galaxy saving everyone by fixing the Millenium Falcon’s hyperdrive” functional, but still impressive for two denizens of our own galaxy.
At the time, Steeples half-joked to Kennedy that the R2 Builders would be on hand to help out if Lucasfilm ever needed them, and he was eventually contacted by executive producer Mark Gatlin on her recommendation. That’s a pretty unassailably cool thing for the the Lucasfilm president to do for someone. Well played, Kennedy. It seems the ten years of preparation that went into Steeples’ first R2 unit paid off.
Steeples and Towersey now work together on Episode VII and focus entirely on droid building. The pair was selected due to their experience in working with droids for Star Wars-themed retail commercials, so they’re familiar with everything that’s necessary to keep the units in good working condition throughout a film shoot, which we can only assume includes sending interns to Tosche Station to pick up power converters.
They’re also working on building droids that function better on multiple terrains, which is a job responsibility that we’re super glad exists in the real world. Keep working on your geek hobby projects!
- We interviewed a guy who 3D prints his own, working Iron Man helmets
- Episode VII finally has a release date, which we’re really excited about
- Watch an animated Star Wars/Nintendo mashup. Now, your childhood is complete