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You may have guessed this when the image you see above was released by the Bad Robot Twitter feed late last week, but now it's official: Lucasfilm has announced that the lovable droid R2-D2 will be back and featured in J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. What's interesting, however, is that the model you see above and the one that will be featured in the movie will be fan-made.
The news was officially announced on the Star Wars Blog of StarWars.com, and it details the story of Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, the two men standing between Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy in the photograph. The two men are members of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club who enjoy spending hobby time creating "functioning, film-accurate astromech droids." They brought their R2-D2 model to the Star Wars Celebration Europe event that was held in Germany this past summer, which was where they happened to run into Kennedy, who was taking a tour of the R2-D2 Builders Area. When Steeples off-handedly mentioned that they were available to build droids if needed, the producer took them seriously and eventually recommended them to executive producer Jason McGatlin. They are now going to be working as part of the Star Wars: Episode VII Creature Effects team.
Even though cameras aren't scheduled to start rolling on the film until next spring, Towersey and Steeples are already working full-time at Pinewood Studios through the pre-production process. The blog post says that they will be focusing exclusively on astromech-building for now, but that may change. Maybe they will be eventually be involved with the making of the C-3PO costume?
It shouldn't really surprise anyone that R2-D2 will be back for Episode VII, as he is one of the only characters who has appeared in all six films of the Star Wars saga and truly a fan favorite. One has to wonder, though: how does this official announcement affect the potential involvement of other classic characters? Given how close Luke and R2 became over the course of their journey together it's hard to imagine that at some point the Jedi would just abandon his faithful droid. Then again, maybe at some point R2 got sucked out into space and wound up having all new kinds of adventures far, far away from Luke, Leia and Han. Hell, considering droids seem to last forever maybe Episode VII will take place long after the three heroes from the original trilogy are already dead.
Excited that R2-D2 is coming back? Tell us what you think is going to happen in the next film and enjoy the video below.