Two 'Star Wars' fans join effects team after impressing producer Kathleen Kennedy
Last week, LucasFilm debuted a new image of director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy standing around the famed blue and white astromech droid R2-D2.
Well, on Tuesday Disney and LucasFilm confirmed that the beloved robot will indeed appear in the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII,” while also providing further information about R2-D2’s creative team.
Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, the two men standing behind Abrams and Kennedy, are officially part of the Creature Effects team for “Star Wars: Episode VII” and have a rather interesting story to tell.
Originally members of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club, a fanclub group dedicating to building robots from the “Star Wars” movies, the duo were hired by Disney and LucasFilm after impressing Kennedy this past summer in Germany.
“She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary,” said Steeples, who finished his first R2-D2 in 2007, after 10 years of collecting parts and researching. “I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation.”
Both men had worked on “Star Wars”-themed commercials in the U.K. but neither had ever dreamed of working on the actual film.
“It’s fascinating to see the whole process of filmmaking as Star Wars: Episode VII grows around us,” says Towersey. “I feel very privileged to be in the working environment I’m in at the moment. It’s something I will never take for granted.”
“It’s a dream come true,” adds Steeples, “and I hope I can live up to the expectations of the thousands of R2-D2 Builders around the world, let alone the millions of Star Wars fans.”
Disney and LucasFilm’s “Star Wars: Episode VII” is currently in pre-production at Pinewood Studios in the U.K. and will begin shooting in the Spring.