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Liam Neeson Shares A Sweet Star Wars Story About R2-D2

Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd, and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

As much as Star Wars has become one of the more divisive film franchises in recent years, part of the reason that everybody feels so passionately about it is that people do ultimately love Star Wars. Even, it turns out, kids who have no idea what Star Wars is love Star Wars, as Liam Neeson has revealed in a story from the production of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Liam Neeson recently reprised his role from that first Star Wars prequel in the final episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+. In a new interview with ScreenRant, Neeson revealed that the new series had reminded him of a moment during the production of The Phantom Menace more than two decades ago when Neeson’s very young son shared a sweet moment with R2-D2. The actor explained…

I cannot believe it was 24 years ago that we shot the film in London. My gosh. I remember my son. I'll tell you a funny story. My son, Michael, was two. His nanny brought him out to visit me on set and it was lunchtime. I held him in my arms and took him around the set and there was R2-D2, just sitting parked. My son looked at this strange piece of metal, in my arms, and just went, '[stretches arms out]' So I had to let him down and he waddled over and started hugging R2-D2

I’m sure there are some grown adults that would give R2-D2 a hug if they had the opportunity to do so, you probably get in trouble if you hur R2 at Galaxy’s Edge, but the mental image of a small child doing it is just adorable. Even the little kid felt an apparent need to give the motionless R2 a hug. He wasn’t going to let dad keep him away.

Whatever you think of Star Wars overall, pretty much everybody loves R2-D2, somebody once spent nearly $3 million to own an original R2 prop, so maybe this reaction is understandable. Except, as Liam Neeson points out, the two-year-old kid doesn’t actually know anything about Star Wars at this point. He hasn’t seen a movie and wouldn’t understand it if he had. Although George Lucas apparently told Liam Neeson that this is just how all kids react to R2. Neeson continued…

I thought it was very interesting. He was two. He knows nothing about Star Wars, saw any of the movies. It was just so cute. I remember telling George Lucas after lunch, I said, 'I brought my son on. He had to go down and hug R2-D2 and it was really touching.' And George said, 'Yeah. R2-D2 has that effect on kids.' And I just thought it was very, very sweet, so it reminded me of that.

Maybe it’s an example of just how much Star Wars has become part of the cultural fabric of the world. Even kids who have never seen Star Wars still have enough of an understanding of it to recognize R2-D2 when they see him. Or maybe that little droid is just perfectly designed to attract children. Most fans likely became Star Wars fans as children, and this moment shows just how easy that can be.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.