Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our fifteenth guest was the man beneath the dome, the late Kenny Baker.
Lightsabre – Kenny, welcome to Lightsabre.
KB – Thank you for asking me to take part.
Lightsabre – Everyone is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Revenge of the Sith, and in being a part of Episode III you have now contributed to all six movies. Could you pick a special moment from the making of Revenge of the Sith, one that maybe made you think back over the past twenty nine years?
KB – Just seeing the set again on board Princess Leia’s ship brought back all the memories. Who would have thought, when we were filming the original movie, that some 25 years later we would all be back to the same point, bringing the story full circle. It’s fantastic and I’m so proud to have been involved in real movie history.
Lightsabre – Which of the six films stands out as your personal favourite, and why?
KB – I think personally for me and for a lot of people it’s the same, it has to be The Empire Strikes Back. Irvin Kershner and I got on very well on set, such a genuine, nice man. Obviously Star Wars had been massive, so we all knew this was something to be part of. Empire is the darkest of the first 3 and we are introduced to so much more of the story and characters. I really hope Episode III carries the same darkness and tension.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. How did you begin in entertainment and what led you to today?
KB – Well briefly, I started Ice Skating in Snow White with Holiday On Ice aged 17 touring the world. During this time, I met Jack Purvis and we formed the Mini-Tones comedy act, after a few years slugging away in the clubs of England and making a fairly big name for ourselves, along came Mr Lucas. That’s pretty much it!
Lightsabre – In 1977 Star Wars fever took over the States, and soon the world. What was it like to be part of that, and to be half of the most loved double act since Laurel and Hardy?
KB – It was an utter explosion round the world. Nothing like it had been seen before, all the merchandise, toys, it was crazy. Fan mail was pouring in for everyone and we were being asked for interviews all over the world. At the time I was doing a comedy double act with Jack Purvis called the Mini-Tones, Jack as I’m sure you know was in Star Wars and Time Bandits, so we were busy every night anyway working in the clubs round the country.
People really did take the two robots to their hearts, which was great for Anthony and I. In a sense R2 really is the pace keeper of the first movie.
Lightsabre – I heard a great story once that on set your kids couldn’t pronounce Harrison Fords name, so he told them to call him `Peaches’. Is there any truth to that?
KB – Wow, how on earth did you find that out! Yes utterly true, my youngest son Kevin didn’t have his two front teeth on Empire. We were filming on the Hoth Hanger set for some time, with the full size Millennium Falcon. My two boys would come on set and play in the cockpit of the Falcon with Chewie, Harrison and Mark in between takes.
For some reason Kevin just couldn’t say Harrison, he was only 4. So one day Harrison picked him up and said “listen Kid if you can’t say Harrison just call me Peaches” at which point Mark Hamill came over and said “Well if you’re calling him Peaches, you’d better call me Cream.” From then on Luke and Han became known, in our house, as Peaches & Cream. Not quite the same ring to it, is there!
Lightsabre – Artoo certainly became a mega star in his own right, and along with Yoda he seemed to make other actors on the set of the prequels feel as if they were really in a Star Wars movie. What is it about Artoo that makes him such a star?
KB – He is just a dedicated, loyal friend to all the main characters and once he has a job to do, he will do it no matter what. He thinks nothing of going outside the ship in The Phantom Menace to fix the problem during a fire fight, just to save his friends. I think we would all like to be that brave and loyal. And he has that slight cheekiness to him, which we all love.
The first day that R2 was on set of Phantom with Ewan he said “Bloody hell it’s like meeting a member of the royal family.”
Lightsabre – What would you change about your Star Wars experiences if you could go back and do it again?
KB – Nothing! It really has been a remarkable thing and a huge part of my life. It’s given me the opportunity to travel the globe, meeting amazing people. It opened the door for me to work on more films, with amazing actors and directors. My kids had a fantastic childhood, playing on set and with all the toys that George would send them. There honestly isn’t one thing I would change.
Lightsabre – You’ve been part of other great movies over the years – Mona Lisa, Labyrinth, Amadeus and primarily as Fidgit in the fantastic Time Bandits. Which of those roles gave you the most satisfaction?
KB – I think my favourite would be Time Bandits with my late comedy partner Jack and the rest of the guy’s. We had so much fun filming and winding each other up. The sketch with us singing me and my shadow to Ian Holme, still makes me laugh to this day. As I said working with the likes of Liam Neeson and Alec Guinness and getting to know Terry on Time Bandits, it’s been a charmed life.
Lightsabre – There’s talk of a Star Wars TV series. Would you be interested in a role, a non-droid part where we get to see your face?
Lightsabre – What do you foresee in the future for yourself outside of the Star Wars galaxy?
KB – Well most weeks I’m off to a convention somewhere, and the fan mail still pours in, so Star Wars will keep me going and will keep going long after I’m in robot heaven. I’ve just finished a small play called Speed Dating and things keep popping up here and there to keep me busy.
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site Lightsabre. Any comments?
KB – It’s a great site, I’ll be going back to check for updates.
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 11th May 2005.