In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke is cleaning R2-D2 when he "stumbles across" the recording of Princess Leia.

Supposedly, Luke somehow triggers R2 playing the recording when he dislodges something from R2's neck joint, but is unable to view the entire message. R2 offers the idea that removing the restraining bolt may allow him to play the entire message, but as soon as it is removed, R2 suddenly claims he doesn't remember any message.

From the script:

Luke struggles to remove a small metal fragment from Artoo's neck joint. He uses a larger pick.


Well, my little friend, you've got something jammed in here real good. Were you on a cruiser or...

The fragment breaks loose with a snap, sending Luke tumbling head over heels. He sits up and sees a twelve-inch three- dimensional hologram of Leia Organa, the Rebel senator, being projected from the face of little Artoo. The image is a rainbow of colors as it flickers and jiggles in the dimly lit garage. Luke's mouth hangs open in awe.


Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.


Luke: Well, I stumbled across a recording while I was cleaning him. He says that he belongs to someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought he might have meant old Ben. Do you know what he's talking about?

To me, the fact that R2 plays dumb, and then sneaks away later that night indicates that he is capable of lying, and even of coming up with plans of his own but is there any evidence (for or against) the idea that the recording was never triggered by Luke and that R2 was simply putting into motion a plan to somehow go and find Obi-Wan by playing a portion of the recording?

  • 19
    I don't have any canon confirmation, but I always assumed it was deliberate, hence the sly request to have the restraining bolt removed...
    – Valorum
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 19:34
  • 1
    I'm with Richard on this. There is no canon to support this that I'm aware of, but it fits with R2's general personality. Commented May 7, 2014 at 2:24
  • 1
    Nah. R2 is a manipulative little hero indeed. It's a ruse.
    – Preston
    Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 6:27
  • Nice question. I never assumed it was deliberate, but I was younger and probably very naive in those days. But if it really was an accident, it would have been a really big coincidence, playing the precise snippet where she mentions Obi-Wan by name.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 6:15
  • It never occurred to me that R2 intentionally played the message, but if this is the case, it wasn't the last time he'd try to trick Luke. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/85714/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


My feeling is that it was always a trick. The scene with Obi-Wan shows him accessing the message almost instantaneously with no need to rummage around with Artoo's access panel. In fact, the only thing we see him do (in order to to unlock the full recording) is to gently pat the droid on the head.

That it plays so neatly into R2D2's improvised plan, which would have been impossible without removing the restraining bolt, gives this extra weight.

  • I always loved the look Kenobi gives R2 at the "vital information" line. One of those moments where the "old man" showed his true colors.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 10:14
  • This lends credence to my belief that R2 tried to trick Luke in ESB. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/85714/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 23:47
  • I think the original novelization could be taken to imply that the thing Luke was trying to dislodge was the "card" (that's how the book describes it) containing the DS plans, and R2 didn't want Luke to get those plans, so he distracted him with a video of a pretty girl.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 20:20
  • 1
    @WadCheber - Luke does love the ladies, 'tis true.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 20:21

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