The late English actor Kenny Baker played R2-D2 in all three original Star Wars films, and received billing credit for the character in the Prequel Trilogy, where Baker's role was reduced, as R2-D2 was portrayed mainly by radio controlled props and/or CGI models. In the Sequel Trilogy, Baker was credited as a creative consultant for the The Force Awakens, though Jimmy Vee performed the character in some scenes. After Baker's death, Vee later fully took over the role, beginning in The Last Jedi. R2 has been operated by John Stears, Brian Johnson, Kit West, Don Bies, Grant Imahara, Jolyon Bambridge, Oliver Steeples, and Lee Towersey.
R2-D2, possibly due to his memory never being erased or reprogrammed, has more personality than other droids, R2 is very loyal and courageous, and though he is not designed for combat, he is not afraid to fight when the situation demanded it. When forced into combat, R2 held his own by using his wide variety of mechanical features to serve as weapons.
General Grievous noted that he possesses a defiant and quirky personality. It has been heavily suggested that in his numerous interactions with C-3PO that R2 has a spunky, if not sarcastic sense of humor. He also seems to have little reservations of behaving in such a matter.
R2-D2 is known for his loyal, courageous, and assertive personality. While R2-D2 is not designed for combat, R2-D2 is still able to hold himself well in a fight on several occasions during the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War. Unlike his fastidious and worry-prone protocol counterpart C-3PO, R2-D2 has an adventurous spirit and was able to cope well under challenging circumstances. Unlike C-3PO, he is able to keep secrets and employ deception to achieve his masters' goals. Due to his resourcefulness and quick-thinking nature, R2-D2 acquitted himself well during a number of difficult and challenging missions including repairing the Naboo Royal Starship's shield generator, preventing T-7 ion disruptor rifles from falling into the hands of the Empire, and delivering Luke's lightsaber during a mission to rescue Han Solo and Chewbacca from Jabba the Hutt.
While certainly not a war droid, R2-D2 has shown reasonable skills in self defense. When forced into combat R2 held his own by using his wide variety of mechanical features to serve as weapons, such as using oil to blind his opponents or make them slip, shocking them with his shock prod, tying them up in a cable or simply bashing into them.
The Phantom Menace
R2-D2 is first seen being introduced to Gungan exile Jar Jar Binks, before rushing to the ship's hull to fix the shield generator with the other astromech droids kept on-board the Naboo Royal Starship should repairs be needed during space flight. Although most of the astromechs are shot down, R2 makes the repairs just in time, allowing the ship to make it past the blockade of Trade Federation Lucrehulk-class battleships. He is thanked for his service and cleaned by Queen Padme Amidala, who at the time was disguised as a handmaiden while her decoy handmaiden portrayed her as the Queen. He then accompanies Padme, Jar Jar, and Qui-Gon Jinn to Tatooine, during which he is introduced to C-3PO, pointing out to the protocol droid that his inner circuitry was showing as he had not been given proper armor to cover it yet by Anakin.
He also flies with Anakin Skywalker in a space battle waged during the Battle of Naboo, helping to take out the Trade Federation's lone Droid Control Battleship in orbit, saving the Gungan army from the Battle Droids below as the battleship's destruction shuts down the droids. He is last seen, standing with the rest of the heroes and beeping delightedly, at the Naboo's victory parade.
Attack of the Clones
R2 accompanied Anakin Skywalker, who was now a Jedi apprentice, and Padme Amidala, who was now a Senator, to Naboo to hide from assassins paid to assassinate Padme after two attempts on her life on Coruscant, the first of which took the lives of two of Padme's handmaidens, including her decoy, and several members of the Royal Naboo Security Force. The second time was nearly foiled by R2 when he heard the highly-poisonous creatures skittering about before returning to a dormant state when he found nothing after scanning the room with his light, but then awoke when Anakin rushed in and slayed the creatures just in time.
He also returned to Tatooine with them, where he was reunited with C-3PO, who had been given coverings and now lived on the Lars Moisture Farm with Shmi Skywalker, who married Cliegg Lars. He remained on the farm with Padme when Anakin set off on an ultimately foiled attempt to rescue his mother from Tusken Raiders. When a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi informed he was in trouble on Geonosis, R2-D2 accompanied Anakin, Padme, and 3PO on a rescue mission. Despite being told to stay with the ship, R2 went out to follow them, despite 3PO's disapproval and attempts to stop him. The two droids found their way to the Droid Factory, where he rescued Padme from a vat of molten rock, but she was ultimately captured by Geonosians while Anakin was captured by Jango Fett and Droidekas. Somehow, he found his way to the Geonosian Arena, where he found 3PO had lost his head, which was placed on the body of a B-1 Battle Droid and is pinned down by Kit Fisto, while his body was given a Battle Droid head. R2-D2 was able to retrieve his head and place it back onto his body, restoring him as only he could.
After the Battle of Geonosis and the beginning of the Clone Wars, R2 served as a witness to Anakin and Padme's secret marriage alongside 3PO.
Revenge of the Sith
R2-D2 plays a large role in the Battle of Coruscant, albeit what is seen of it on-screen. When Obi-Wan's Jedi starfighter is attacked by Buzz Droids launched at him by a Separatist Vulture Droid starfighter, Anakin's attempts to crush them with the wing of his fighter allows one to clamber across to confront R2, in the hopes of killing R2 like it did Obi-Wan's astromech, R4-P17. However, R2 fights the Buzz Droid off, soon managing to disable it by zapping its center eye with his taser, leaving it to drift off into the chaos of the space battle. After landing in General Grevious' flagship, the Invisible Hand, R2 helps Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to locate their target of rescue, Chancellor Palpatine. He also attempts to aid the Jedi when the elevator they are in proves faulty, but is intercepted by two B-2 Super Battle Droids. However, he creates his popular "fiery surprise" and jets away, spraying the droid who picked him up with oil, and when the two droids begin to slip on the oil slick, R2 ignites it with his thrusters, allowing him to hover to safety while the SBDs are immolated in the burning oil. Soon after, he helps land the Invisible Hand, and also accompanies Anakin to Coruscant and later Mustafar, though his current awareness of his master's conversion to the Dark Side is unknown. After Darth Vader (Anakin's new alias) injures Padme Amidala, R2 and 3PO help get her to the ship.
After Padme dies from a broken heart after giving birth to Luke and Leia at the Polis Massa Medical Facility, R2 and 3PO are entrusted to the care of Captain Antilles of Senator Bail Organa's starship, the Tantive IV, with 3PO's memories of what happened since first being built by Anakin being wiped under Organa's orders. R2 is spared since he could only speak in normal droid noises.
A New Hope
When Princess Leia's ship was under attack and captured by an Imperial Star Destroyer, she inserted secret plans of the Empire's moon-sized battle station, the Death Star, into R2 and gave him the task to deliver them to the Rebel Alliance. He made his escape in a escape pod to Tatooine with his companion C-3PO and soon after crash landing on surface, R2 proceeded with his mission and headed for the rocky area of the Jundland Wastes while 3PO went his own way into the open desert, out of annoyance with him. Unfortunately, R2 was incapacitated, captured, and salvaged by Jawas who sold him, along with C-3PO, to Owen Lars and met Luke Skywalker, Anakin's son. R2 was nearly left behind by when he tried to follow 3PO and was halted by a Jawa activating the restraining bolt installed on him, but when the other astromech Owen purchased suffered a breakdown with its motivator, Owen decided to buy R2 in place of it, which the lead Jawa accepted while his buddies retrieved the broken astromech to mend on their sandcrawler.
While Luke was cleaning R2, he accidentally caused him to project a part of Princess Leia's message to former Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was now under the name of Ben Kenobi. R2-D2 later escaped from the farm and went out looking for Obi-Wan during the night, but Luke and 3PO soon caught up with him after sunrise and were attacked by Tusken Raiders. Luckily, Obi-Wan showed up just in time to save them and, after taking refuge at his hut, he presented Leia's full message asking him to help the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire. After the loss of Luke's family, when Luke finds the moisture farm in ruins and his aunt and uncle slain by Imperial Stormtroopers, R2 accompanied him and Obi-Wan to Mos Eisley, where they would find a ship to take them to Alderaan. They hired Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate Chewbacca to take them, but upon arriving, they found the entire planet destroyed by the Empire's super weapon. Their ship was eventually caught in the Death Star's tractor beam and brought aboard.
The crew managed to avoid capture and made their way to one of the command stations that overlooked the hangar where the Falcon was being kept. R2 plugged into the Imperial Network and located the main controls to the power beams that was holding the ship and noted by 3PO, the ship would be able to get pass the tractor beam if there was a power loss at one of the terminals. Soon after Obi-Wan left to take out the tractor beam, R2 also discovered Princess Leia was also aboard the Death Star and being held prisoner. While Han, Luke, and Chewbacca went off to rescue her, R2 and 3PO stayed behind. However, they had to move away from their current position after a squadron of Stormtroopers forced their way in, but didn't suspect anything from the two droids, as 3PO was able to convince the Stormtrooper left on sentry duty to allow him to take R2 down for maintenance. Hiding behind crates in the main hanger where the Falcon was, R2 operated a nearby terminal, where he saved Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Leia from being crushed by the garbage compactors. Soon, R2 and 3PO were regrouped with the crew, and R2 witnessed the death of Kenobi. Afterwards, he escaped aboard the Millennium Falcon to Yavin 4, where R2 presented the Death Star plans to the Alliance and planned out the attack for the attack squadron. R2 accompanied Luke in his X-Wing in the attack on the Death Star, and during the run down the trench, he was shot and dismantled by Darth Vader, but the battle was victorious when Luke successfully destroyed the Death Star. He was soon repaired just in time to witness Luke and Han being awarded with medals for their heroism in a ceremony overseen by Leia with many Rebel personnel in attendance and applauding the heroes of the Battle of Yavin.
The Empire Strikes Back
After the Rebellion was forced to abandon their base on Yavin 4 and transfer to their new base of operations on Hoth with the establishment of Echo Base there, R2 remained in the base, arguing with 3PO regarding damage to Leia's quarters before meeting up with Han, telling him that Luke has not returned to the base yet and Leia was getting worried. After Han leaves to go find Luke with night falling on the planet and temperatures plunging to below zero, R2 remains a vigilant guard with hoping that Han and Luke would make it back safely. However, when Leia gives orders to seal Echo Base up for the night, R2 can only have 3PO relay his odds at someone surviving a frigid night out on Hoth's tundra to be very slim, approximately 725 to 1.
Some time the next day, after Luke had recovered in a bacta tank from his injuries, R2 and 3PO are the first to offer their relief that he is healthy again. However, after Han and Chewie discover that Echo Base has been discovered by an Imperial Viper probe droid, the Rebellion is forced to evacuate for safer havens. R2 remains behind to be loaded up into Luke's X-Wing, and together, they flee Hoth, but R2 asks Luke if they are joining the rest of the Rebellion, but Luke has other plans, saying that they are heading for Dagobah, and assuring R2 that the planet should be safe for droids.
As they approach Dagobah, they encounter heavy cloud cover, making it difficult for Luke to land, resulting in him crashing his X-Wing into a swamp. As he and R2 disembark from the swamped fighter, the fighter shifts in the water, leading to R2 falling overboard and into the swamp. He is fine afterwards, but before he can reach shore, he is attacked by one of the swamp's predators and dragged underwater. However, finding R2 inedible, the predator spits him out, sending him flying onto the shore, leaving R2 very discomforted, agreeing with Luke's idea that it was bad to come to Dagobah by regurgitating out some muddy swamp water from a panel on his head. After Luke makes camp and hooks R2 up to recharge, they are soon surprised to find a visitor in their campsite, unaware at the time it was Jedi Master Yoda. Yoda takes Luke and R2 back to his hut, but R2 stays outside as Luke is allowed in to convince Yoda to train him in the ways of the Force and become a Jedi.
R2 stays behind with Yoda when Luke travels into the woods and finds the Dark Side cave, where he encounters a vision of Darth Vader. Later, R2 interrupts Luke's Force training to warn him that his X-Wing was sinking deeper into the swamp. R2 tries to cheer Luke on as he attempts to use the Force to raise his X-Wing from the swamp, but fails to do so. However, R2 gets Luke's attention when he is off sulking so Luke can bear witness as Yoda is able to flawlessly raise the X-Wing himself and guide it over to the shore for Luke to effects repairs on it. R2 later finds himself part of Luke's continued Force training as Luke is able to levitate him alongside several other objects before a vision Luke has of Cloud City causes him to lose his focus, sending R2 crashing back to the ground.
R2 joins Luke as he departs Dagobah for Bespin, but upon arriving at Cloud City, they are fired on by Boba Fett when attempting to pursue him as he takes the carbon-frozen body of Han to his ship, the Slave I, to take back to Tatooine. R2 and Luke then find the Stormtroopers escorting Leia, Chewie, and a partially-rebuilt 3PO, along with Lando Calrissian, the Baron-Administrator for Cloud City, but as they attempt to pursue them, Leia tries to warn Luke that he's entering a trap, and R2 is separated from Luke by a closing door, leaving him to try and regroup with Leia, Lando, Chewie, and 3PO. When he does, he tries to override a door control at 3PO's urging, but ends up plugging into a power outlet, electrocuting himself. When they reach the door to the landing pad where the Falcon is, R2 works to open the door, despite 3PO yelling at him and insulting him as Lando, Leia, and Chewie hold off the Stormtroopers, and once R2 opens it, 3PO then begins praising him. Once aboard the Falcon, Chewie leaves 3PO in R2's care to finish rebuilding him as they attempt to escape, but as R2 effects repairs, he tells 3PO that he learned that Imperial spies had disabled the hyperdrive on the Falcon. 3PO reprimands R2 for listening to an unfamiliar computer, but R2 retaliates by giving 3PO a singe or two while fixing his legs, and blowing a mechanical raspberry at him when he tells him to be more careful.
With the Falcon moments away from being brought aboard the Imperial Navy flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor, R2 takes it upon himself to try and restart the hyperdrive, despite 3PO telling him to come back and finish fixing him first instead of having delusions of grandeur. However, R2 succeeds in restarting the hyperdrive, and the Falcon escapes into lightspeed just in time.
Back with the Alliance Navy, R2 and 3PO are with Luke and Leia on a Rebel Medical Frigate as Lando and Chewbacca prepare to depart in the Falcon to hunt down Boba Fett and find Han. They join Luke and Leia as they watch the Falcon depart to begin its search, while the Alliance Navy continues onwards to their rendezvous point.
Return of the Jedi
R2-D2 goes to Jabba's palace with C-3PO on Tatooine. Here, Luke gives them to Jabba the Hutt temporarily as a ploy that he means no harm. R2 is aware of this, but 3PO is not. However, despite being offered as a gift to Jabba by Luke in the hopes of freeing Han, Jabba refuses under encouragement from Bib Fortuna, his majordomo, and R2 is forced by EV-9D9 to serve drinks on Jabba's sail barge, an indignity to his potential. However, when Luke, Han, and Chewie are to be fed to the Sarlaac, R2 gives Luke his lightsaber, allowing everyone to escape after the sail barge is destroyed. R2 personally cuts Leia's chain that kept her bound to Jabba in half with his taser, before using it to save 3PO from Salicious Crumb, who was trying to gouge 3PO's eyes out. R2 then pushes 3PO off of Jabba's sail barge before rolling off himself, and the two are picked up by Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and Lando before departing to leave Jabba's corpse to be blown to bits with his sail barge.
Regrouping with the Alliance Navy, R2 is in attendance as Rebel founder Mon Mothma, along with Admiral Ackbar and General Crix Madine discuss their plan for taking out the Death Star II while the Emperor himself is aboard, delivering what they hoped would be the death knell for the Empire. R2 is part of Han's strike force that will head to the forest moon of Endor to take out the Death Star's defense shield. When Luke and Leia are separated during a speeder chase with Imperial Scout Troopers, R2 goes with Luke, Han, Chewie, and 3PO to find her, and end up in a trap set up by the native Ewoks. R2 is able to cut them free, but the Ewoks take R2 and everyone else prisoner, sans 3PO, whom they believe to be a god. When Luke is able to use the Force to levitate 3PO and convince the Ewoks to release them, R2 takes pleasure in getting some payback as he zaps one of the Ewoks with his taser. Once 3PO explains to the Ewoks everything, they agree to aid the Rebel strike team with taking out the shield generator, considering the Empire's presence on the forest moon an outrage on their peace and way of life.
However, after one of the Ewok scouts lures most of the Scout Troopers guarding the back door to the bunker away, R2 remains with 3PO and Wicket, only for Wicket to soon leave after seeing Imperial reinforcements entering the bunker to capture Han, Leia, Chewie, and the strike team, leaving R2 and 3PO to fend for themselves.
When 3PO gets the attention of the Imperial forces stationed below in the clearing outside the bunker, severely outnumbering the Rebel strike team by at least 10-1, especially with the support of AT-ST walkers, several Stormtroopers come up to capture him and R2, whom 3PO questioned seconds earlier if luring the Imperial troops up to them was a good idea. It turns out to be a good choice as, after 3PO tells the Stormtroopers that he and R2 surrender, the Ewoks launch their counterattack, catching the Imperial forces by surprise, causing them to scatter as they try to hunt the Ewoks down. R2 is soon summoned by Leia to the bunker to override the door controls as the Imperials inside sealed the door and changed the access code, and R2 needs to bypass it. R2 makes it to the bunker, but he barely has time to plug in and begin trying to override the lock before a Stormtrooper nails him with a well-placed shot, sending him reeling back across the door frame to where 3PO is hunkered down. Han quickly retaliates and shoots the Stormtrooper dead for his action, but the damage is done. Han and Leia can only watch as R2 suffers a short-circuit that causes many of his panels and tools to pop out, leaving him unable to override the door lock. Han fails to override it himself, and Leia is wounded in the upper arm by a Stormtrooper's laser blast. They soon find themselves staring down the barrels of the front cannons of an AT-ST, but thankfully, the AT-ST is under the control of Chewie and two Ewoks who commandeered it. With the support of the AT-ST, Han is able to force the Imperials inside the bunker into surrender when they come out and are surrounded by the Rebel strike team and Ewoks, allowing them to destroy it and the shield generator. R2 soon recovers afterwards to bear witness to the destruction of the Death Star II by the Alliance Navy, celebrating the Rebel victory in the Battle of Endor, and joining everyone for the celebration back at the Ewoks' home of Bright Tree Village with the rest of the Rebellion as Lando, Wedge, and the other Alliance members join in.
Luke spent the subsequent decades rebuilding the Jedi Order, but his dream was delayed by his nephew Ben Solo, who massacred his fellow students after succumbing to the Dark Side. R2-D2 was present at the burning of the Temple Luke built; his master placed his hand on his trusted astromech as he knelt and wept.
Thirty years after the Battle of Endor and a short time after Luke went into exile, R2-D2 went into a self-imposed low-power mode in order to recuperate from decades of uninterrupted operation, having not operated at peak efficiency for several years prior. In a sort of semi-retirement, his celebrated status in the early Rebellion protected him from becoming spare parts as newer and more advanced droid models had become the norm for starship support duty. In his low-power mode, R2 sifted through the immense stores of data he had downloaded from the computers of the first Death Star; the entirety of the Imperial database, entering a state akin to dreaming.
Shortly after the attack on Starkiller Base, he overheard Rey stating that the First Order had recovered the missing part of a map that revealed Luke Skywalker's location from Imperial records. R2 promptly reactivated after years of hibernation, and searched his records and found that he had previously downloaded this map while upon the first Death Star. Projecting the map into the room, R2 matched his map with the piece that BB-8 held. He subsequently accompanied Rey and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon to Ahch-To, the planet identified as Luke's final destination.
During the beginning of the Galactic Civil War, R2-D2 and C-3PO were at the Rebel Alliance's base on Yavin 4, witnessing the Rebel fleet leave for Scarif, to assist Rogue One in stealing the plans to the Death Star.
Along with C-3PO, R2 makes an appearance in a segment about Mickey Mouse's television career.
Along with C-3PO, R2 appears in one small part where 3PO explains how important speech clarity is for survival while admitting there are exceptions to the rule, such as Donald Duck's speech, which R2 can apparently understand pretty well.
R2 and C-3PO make an appearance in the ANT Farm episode "ScavANTger Hunt".
R2 and 3PO accompanied Minister Tua to Garel where she was on her way to pick up a shipment of illegal T-7 Ion Disruptors. Upon their arrival, C-3PO and R2-D2 were present when the Rebels stole the Disruptors. during the gunfire against Zeb and the Stormtroopers, R2 followed Chopper and boarded the Ghost with 3PO and journeyed back to Lothal.
While aboard, R2 secretly recorded the Rebel's activity for his master, Bail Organa and during the ambush he helped Sabine come up with a plan to destroy the Disruptors by overloading them. Soon after escaping the Imperials, the Rebels returned R2 and 3PO were safely to Senator Organa and while 3PO went off to shut down, R2 shared his findings with his master.
R2-D2 has appeared in Disney Parks since 1986. As of 2018, these appearances are no longer considered to be part of the continuity of the official Star Wars canon, instead falling into the Legends continuity.
R2-D2 was heard in the onboard soundtracks for the PeopleMover and its replacement, Rocket Rods, as those attractions' respective vehicles passed through Star Tours at Disneyland. The most widely accepted story is that he and C-3PO retired to Star Tours sometime after the events of Return of the Jedi.
In Hong Kong Disneyland, R2-D2 had began its meet-and-greet sessions in Star Wars: Command Post (where replaced Stitch Encounter), during Star Wars: Tomorrowland Takeover event start at June 11, 2016, as part of its 10th anniversary celebration.
R2-D2 is the astromech for the StarSpeeder 1000 and one of the main characters throughout the ride. R2 seems to have more control over the ship than C-3PO does, and seems to veer the ship out of sticky situations, such as electrocuting a sea monster that attempts to eat the ship, tasing a buzz droid, or helping escape Darth Vader's force grip. He is also seen in the queue.
- R2-D2 was loosely based on Matashichi (Kamatari Fujiwara) from Akira Kurosawa's 1957 film The Hidden Fortress. Like Matashichi, R2 is small, impish, and practical. However, he's smarter, more courageous, more selfless, and more morally sound. George Lucas never paid Fujiwara for basing his character off of him, and Fujiwara never commented on the Star Wars films in comparison to The Hidden Fortress.
- R2-D2 and C-3PO are the only Star Wars characters to appear in every Star Wars film to date, including Rogue One.