Kenny Baker, the actor who brought the lovable Star Wars droid R2-D2 to life, has passed away at the age of 81. The British actor died after a long illness, The Guardian reports.

Baker, who was 3ft. 8in. tall, played R2-D2 in the first six Star Wars films, beginning in 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope. He also starred in the films Time Bandits, Flash Gordon and Labyrinth.

Abigail Shield, Baker's niece, told The Guardian, "When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn't survive through puberty, being a little person in those times, they didn't have a very good life expectancy. He did extremely well in his life. He was very ill for the last few years so we had been expecting it. He had been looked after by one of his nephews, who found him on Saturday morning."

Baker was able to attend the London premiere of The Force Awakens — for which he served as a consultant for the film — but was too ill to travel to Los Angeles for the United States premiere. He married his wife Eileen in 1970, and she passed away in 1993. They had two children together.