Update: We received this in an e-mail from Albin Johnson, giving a little more detail on how KT made it into the film:
“The family was contacted in late 2014 with the idea of having R2-KT in the movie. The Fan Relations team at Lucasfilm was kind enough to request a press kit for a presentation to Kathleen Kennedy. Six months later we were told to have R2-KT ready for shipping to London! There were repairs to be made to R2-KT but thanks to the R2 Builders club, the club that originally built R2-KT for our late daughter Katie, we had the droid shipped off in time to be there for shooting The Force Awakens. Only recently were we notified that R2-KT was confirmed to be in the final cut for the film. We were told her appearance would be brief and in the background, with no details as to the scene or situation she will be in. But this is an amazing tribute to Star Wars fans everywhere and a true confirmation of J.J. Abrams’ commitment to honor the fans. The family is so proud of the legacy that Katie has had among fans and the popularity of R2-KT. We are hoping this will help R2-KT’s mission to raise funds for charity, raise awareness of pediatric illnesses, and spread the magic of Star Wars!”
Original story follows:
[photos: R2-KT’s web site]
She can be spotted in the behind-the-scenes reel shown at Comic-Con in San Diego (at the 1:50 mark), but we have confirmation that R2-KT will appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st Legion fan group and owner of the droid, confirmed in an e-mail (and on his Facebook page) that KT made the final cut, past the post-production phase of the film without ending up on the cutting room floor.
“Spread the word: it’s official, R2-KT is in The Force Awakens. We just received permission to share the news. If you hadn’t seen it before, footage from San Diego Comic-Con revealed our girl in the creature effects shop while on break. We’ve been sitting on the news for over a year, and it was hard work getting her to London. But the excitement over JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy believing in the story behind KT is a huge endorsement to how much the new guard believes in the fans and the true magic behind Star Wars. Can’t wait to see her cameo. Now if only we can deal with her new diva complex…”
In an e-mail to Geeks Speak, Johnson wrote, “Mary Franklin of Lucasfilm asked me to pitch the idea to Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm President), and after hearing the story of our pink ambassador of hope Lucasfilm requested we ship her off to London early last year. Quick repairs were made and off she went for six months.”
No word on just where in the movie she will appear.
R2-KT is named for Johnson’s daughter Katie, who was diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumor in 2004. While at church services one day, Johnson noticed the shape of the windows in the building (looking very much like a certain little droid) and had the idea of building an R2 unit to watch over Katie while she slept, similar to how R2-D2 had watched over a sleeping Padmé Amidala in Attack of the Clones, and older sister Allie came up with the idea of a customized astromech — paint it pink and name it after Katie.
The first KT was an existing unit given a pink make-over by its owner, Andy Schwartz, who shipped his astromech unit to the Johnsons so Katie would have a droid to enjoy while the official KT was built. Katie passed away in her sleep in August 2005, and the Star Wars fan community came together to recognize Katie and her love for the little droid.
R2-KT was completed and delivered in July 2006, and has been making appearances and visiting hospitals ever since. KT merchandise includes a maquette, a Hot Wheels car, and various items for sale to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation.
R2-KT has already appeared in The Clone Wars, but this will be the first time she makes a live-action appearance in the Star Wars saga.