Confirmed: R2-D2 is in Star Wars: Episode VII

Remember that behind-the-scenes photo from Star Wars: Episode VII last week? There was more to that photo than we originally thought. Today, Lucasfilm opened up about the two people featured in the photo. No, not J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, the other guys! These two gentlemen are Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, “Star Wars” fans and members of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club who were hired to build droids for the upcoming film.

“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,” says Steeples. “She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary. 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.”

The pair are now working full-time on Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios and focusing solely on astromech-building for the production.

“We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot,” says Towersey. “We have a good knowledge of Artoo, with a large stock of parts for reference and drawings, plus we know what is involved throughout the whole building process, as well as potential problems we need to avoid.” 

To be scripted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, Star Wars: Episode VII is rumored to focus on a new generation of heroes and could include appearances by Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in older incarnations of their beloved characters from the original “Star Wars” trilogy. The film is expected to begin production early next year and will hit theaters on December 18, 2015.