George Lucas made it clear from the opening moments of the original film that droids would play a pivotal role in his science fiction epic. Creating the backbone of the Star Wars saga, however, was no easy feat. That’s especially true when it came to bringing R2-D2 to life. The idea for the diminutive astromech droid was sound enough in theory, if not in initial practice. In the screen test footage below you can see how well things went at the start.
That is the iconic Kenny Baker hopping around in the all-silver R2 prototype… and promptly falling over. Thankfully they eventually worked out the kinks. Artoo would go one to become one of the most popular, if not most important characters in all of Star Wars. One can argue he’s certainly among the most important droids. Baker would play the character throughout most of the Star Wars franchise. (Jimmy Vee took over the role following Baker’s death in 2016.)
Screen test footage shows tough early going for Star Wars droids
In the footage we also see several other droids you might recognize. Most appeared in the scene in which R2-D2 and C-3PO come into Luke’s Skywalker’s possession. Though background characters in the Jawa scene, they illustrate just how important droids are to the Star Wars universe. We also get to see some of the first screen testing for Anthony Daniels in the decades-old video. Even back then, the film clapper already acknowledged the golden droid by his franchise nickname, “Threepio.”
Anthony Daniels, of course, has portrayed C-3PO in film and voice since the beginning. Though actor Chris Bartlett (The Mandalorian) makes a near-perfect facsimile, Daniels has made it clear he’ll never retire from Star Wars. “They’re going to have to throw me out the door,” the British actor famously said late last year. Together with Kenny Baker (and then Jimmy Vee), Daniels created one of the most recognizable pair of droids in cinematic history.
It’s nice to see this old screen test footage now, and get a glimpse at the humble beginnings of the Star Wars droids we’ve come to know and love.