R2-KT, the Droid Inspired By a Little Girl with Brain Cancer, To Appear in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
If you haven’t already, meet R2-KT, R2-D2’s pink friend, now appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
R2-KT is a droid inspired by Katie Johnson, the daughter of Albin Johnson, the founder of the 501st Legion. The 501st Legion is a Star Wars fan club that does charity work in-costume. Katie was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in November of 2004. When Johnson and his family were in church, a frequent habit during Katie’s treatment, Albin took it as a sign that one of the stained-glass windows was shaped like an R2 unit. He got the idea to build a droid for his dying daughter, to keep watch over her the way R2-D2 watched over Padme in Attack of the Clones. Katie’s older sister suggested a pink R2, and then they took it to the R2 Builders Group, a Star Wars fan club led by Jerry Greene.
Greene and the rest of the group were enthusiastic about the project, and pulled out all the stops to realize Albin’s dream. But the project was taking too long, so “one of the members of the group named Andy Schwartz generously shipped his R2 unit down to Katie’s home, complete with a pink makeover.” Little Katie was ecstatic to greet her new friend.
Sadly, Katie passed away in her sleep in August 2005, but her story had such a profound effect on the Star Wars community that Katie’s legacy will live on through the droid she inspired. Albin turned the image of R2-KT into a symbol of hope, bringing it to countless charity events, when visiting children in hospitals, and at various Star Wars events throughout the country.
In 2007, Hasbro manufactured an R2-KT action figure and debuted it at Comic-Con, and later on, the unit appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
But R2-KT’s latest gig is her biggest yet. Ten years after it was first conceived, R2-KT will make a live-action appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Albin Johnson pitched the idea to the president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, who “requested we ship her off to London early last year.” After “quick repairs,” R2-KT spent “six months” filming. How cute!