Seeing the notification on my phone that Paul Reubens had passed away was a shock. According to Variety, the 70-year-old lost his private battle with cancer. Generations of kids beloved the Pee-wee Herman actor, and for Star Wars fans, he has been the voice of a particular character in the Disney Parks.
Reubens was the voice of RX-24 or “Rex” in Star Tours. Since 1987, Rex has taken passengers on a trip to various planets only to make a daring escape when the vessel gets caught in a battle between the rebels and the Empire. The ride and its updated sequel feature many familiar faces, from Anthony Daniels to Oscar Isaac, but Reubens’ Rex was always in the center of the action. Even with the sequel ride Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, RX was brought back because he was so popular with fans.
With the release of Star Wars Rebels, Reubens would return to the franchise in the season one episode “Droids in Distress.” Rex shuttled the Ghost crew as they pulled off a heist against Imperial Minister Tua. It turned out that they were on the same mission as R2-D2 and C-3PO for Bail Organa.
As the canon continued for Rex, he would leave his job on Lothal to work for Star Tours until after the Battle of Jakku in the Sequel Era. Once more, Reubens returned to his character for the last time, where Rex changed his name to R-3X. Recording lines for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Reubens’ character can be seen by parkgoers as a DJ at Oga’s Cantina.
While I didn’t grow up with Pee-wee Herman, Reubens starred in one of my favorite movies as a kid, Mystery Men. Before the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC, Mystery Men was one of my first exposures to the superhero genre, and Reubens was perfect as The Spleen.
Paul Reubens has been a central figure in Star Wars Disney parks for decades. Next time you’re in Galaxy’s Edge, stop by Star Tours and tip your hat to Rex in Reubens’ honor.
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This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Star Wars wouldn’t exist.