Tony Dyson, the robotics expert and special effects coordinator who was responsible for creating Star Wars’ iconic R2-D2 droid, was found dead at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo on Friday, March 4. He was 68.
According to the Associated Press, neighbors of the British creator reported him missing to police when they realized they hadn’t seen him in public for a few days.
Authorities will conduct an autopsy to determine Dyson’s cause of death but tell the AP that no foul play is suspected at this time. He had lived in Malta since the early 1990s.
Dyson was first pulled into Hollywood while he was working at his toy business, The White Horse Toy Company, back in the ‘70s, he once explained on his personal website. George Lucas commissioned him to create eight R2-D2 units for the original 1977 film, and the rest is history. R2-D2 has appeared in many subsequent Star Wars films, including The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace and more.
In addition to building the iconic droid, Dyson and his studio have also lent their creative energies to other major blockbusters, including 1980’s Superman II and 1979’s James Bond film, Moonraker.
“In 2003, R2-D2 was selected for induction to the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon University,” he wrote. “Did you know that R2 makes a brief appearance in the new Star Trek movie and in Transformers 2? Well you do know now.”
On Sunday, February 28, R2-D2 joined fellow Star Wars droids, his faithful pal C-3PO and The Force Awakens’ newbie, BB-8, at the Oscars to present the award for Best Original Score.
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