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The Actor Inside R2-D2 Was Not a Fan of the Guy in C-3PO

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Today is the 78th birthday of Kenny Baker, the actor inside R2-D2 in each of the six Star Wars films. So let's learn a bit more about him.

1. He Doesn’t Have A Ton of Affection For His Fellow Droid
On a number of occasions, Baker described his less than warm feelings for Anthony Daniels, the actor inside his fellow Star Wars droid C-3PO. "He's the rudest man I've ever met," Baker said in 2005. In a 2009 interview with Metro he offered the following:

"I thought it was just me he didn't get on with but recently I've found out he doesn't get on with anyone. He's been such an awkward person over the years. If he just calmed down and socialised with everyone, we could make a fortune touring around making personal appearances. I've asked him four times now but, the last time, he looked down his nose at me like I was a piece of s**t. He said: 'I don't do many of these conventions - go away little man.' He really degraded me and made me feel small - for want of a better expression. He's rude to everyone though, including the fans."

2. He’s Part of An Old Hollywood Tradition
Baker is immortalized in cement outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The only catch is that it wasn’t his actual feet that left a mark. Instead, he was inside R2-D2 and placed the droid’s 3 legs in the wet pavement, right next to the feet of C-3PO and Darth Vader.


3. He Also Played An Ewok
In addition to playing R2, Baker portrayed the Ewok Paploo in Return of the Jedi. Paploo is mainly known as the furry little guy that hijacks an Imperial speeder bike.

In the Metro interview, Baker explains the experience this way: "When you put the head on, the eyes steamed up so you couldn't see where you were going. We kept tripping over branches and, when you were down, you couldn't get up - you just had to lie there until someone picked you up."

4. His Ewok Character Has A Twitter Account
Paploo has more than 1,300 followers, even though his tweets all look pretty much like this:

5. He Started Out As A Circus Performer
Baker provides the following biography on his website:

I started performing in 1950 at the age of 16 when I joined the Burton Lester's Midgets as a performer. Shortly after I became a DJ with Mecca Organization before joining Billy Smart's Circus as a clown and shadow Ringmaster.

6. He Once Shared A Stage with Laurel and Hardy
When the legendary comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy visited England in 1952 they posed with the Burton Lester ensemble, which included the then-teenaged Baker.

7. He May Not Have Gotten Super Rich
While you’d probably think anyone with a stake in Star Wars is fabulously wealthy, that may not be the case. Baker has mentioned several times over the years that while some of the stars of the film received royalties for their participation, he wasn’t one of them.

8. There’s More to His Film Career Than Star Wars
In addition to the six Star Wars films, Baker has also appeared in many other films, including Willow, Labyrinth, and The Elephant Man.

9. There’s More to His Career Than Films
In addition to acting, he once also pursued a stand-up comedy career, and is an accomplished harmonica player.

10. He Once Knocked Out the Heavyweight Champ
Well, not really. But this picture of him and Muhammad Ali is still really cool.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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