Tonight R2 joined several Star Wars characters to provide fun for attendees of The Empire Strikes Back Script Read, at the United Artists Ace Theater, in Los Angeles, CA. The theater sold out, with a capacity of 1,600.
The event was organized by film director Jason Reitman, and featured the following voice cast:
Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker
Jessica Alba as Leia
Ellen Page as Han Solo
JK Simmons as Darth Vader
Rain Wilson as Chewbacca
Stephen Merchant as C-3P0
Kevin Pollak as Yoda
Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian
Mark Hamill as the Emperor and Boba Fett (and more)
Jason Reitman as R2-D2 (whistling)
(That photo bears a striking resemblance to that at Entertainment Weekly...)
This was a "cold read," meaning the cast had not rehearsed together prior to performing. It makes for a fun and surprising show.
Gordon Tarpley was our C-3PO. The characters were mainly there for photo ops, although there was some talk for a while of having R2 be up on stage. That didn't end up happening, but we still had fun doing the pre-show photos.
JK Simmons, playing the role of Vader, was escorted into the theater upon his introduction by a few Storm Troopers, and Darth Vader.
Once we were done, we took a few group pictures outside the theater, before the characters dressed down in a room at the adjoining hotel.
Once everyone changed and R2 was stored in the changing room, we were able to see the show (we missed maybe the first 20 minutes).
It was totally great! The actors really had fun with their roles, and there was some fun, creative embellishment. Mark Hamill did a great job as the Emperor, as did Kevin Pollak with Yoda. But they were all good. I snuck a picture after the show had ended, as no photography or recording was allowed during the performance (unless you are Entertainment Weekly).
Afterward, we gathered our gear (or droids, as the case may be), and headed down to the front of the theater to wait for the valets to get our cars. The line was long as we were with 1,600 theater patrons.
I obliged a lot of pictures with R2, but I decided to duck back inside the theater lobby to avoid the crowd. A few minutes later, I was joined by actor Aaron Paul, who was also doing the same. He, Gordon Tarpley and I chatted for a good 10-15 minutes. He mentioned it was a bit stressful to play Luke Skywalker in front of the original actor who played him, but he did fine. He also said he was pretty impressed with R2!
It was a fun night. I didn't get home until around 12:30am and didn't get in bed until well after 1:00am, but it was worth it.