As one can imagine, staying crouched down inside the R2-D2 can for extended periods was a pretty physically exhausting experience for Baker. He noted that stagehands had to lift open the R2-D2 head from time to time just so he could breathe more comfortably. He also noted that he was poked a lot by the interior machinery:
“At first [I] used to operate the lights from inside and I had a hard time hearing what was going on. I only had this opaque window, which made everything seem farther away than it was. And the inside of the head was full of screws and nuts and bolts. [It] was all cuts and bruises for the first film because I kept banging my head around on the roof. Eventually they cut them all off or covered them with foam, and cleaned up all the wires connecting the lights and wrapped them in a tube.”
For the role of Paploo, one might assume that Baker would have been more comfortable, given that he had greater freedom of movement while playing an Ewok. The Ewok masks, however, were not always the most comfortable … or breathable. The insides of the Ewok eyeballs frequently fogged up and people fell over. Baker recalled:
“For ‘Jedi,’ they said there was another part for me. I play an Ewok. Nice little character, but it’s a very uncomfortable costume. We let the other little people playing Ewoks know what they were letting themselves in for — it was hot, hard work. The tighter you wear your mask, the better it is, because the air flow is more direct. You breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, otherwise your own air circulates inside the head.”
Baker passed away in 2016 at the age of 81. Rest in peace.