ORRINGTON, Maine — The mission of droid R2D2 in the “Star Wars” movies has been simple — to do anything and everything possible to support the efforts of his masters and their friends in the battle against the evil Galactic Empire.

The mission of the R2D2 replica built by Orrington resident Paul Bussiere also is simple — to bring smiles to the faces of fans, both young and old, who have come to love the “Star Wars” droid, especially those battling terminal illnesses.

For the highly anticipated release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which has advance viewings on Thursday at movie theaters across the nation, Bussiere and his R2 will be interacting with fans at the Bangor Mall Cinema 10 theater, which is hosting a “galactic gathering premiere weekend celebration,” with four days of movie-themed events starting at 5 p.m. Thursday in its lobby.

“R2’s completely the unsung hero,” Bussiere said Sunday at his home, which is filled with R2D2 components that he uses or plans to use for his completed droid, and another one started in his basement. “He plays both the comic relief and curious kid, as well as the hero.”

Who could forget how R2D2 restored the shields when Queen Amidala’s royal starship was under attack by the Trade Federation in “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” or when R2 and his protocol droid friend C-3PO stopped the trash compactor that was about to crush Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca in the original movie in the series, now called “Star Wars Episode IV — A New Hope,” that was released in 1977?

“The adults instantly go back into their mode of when they were 8 years old, or however old they were as a kid when they saw it for the first time,” Bussiere said, talking about how people react when they see his R2 in action. “For the kids, it’s just part of their culture. Occasionally you’ll run into a kid who hasn’t seen the movie before but yet they seem to be aware of the characters. The reactions are always the best part.”

His R2D2 “is as close as one can get to the real thing,” a Cinema 10 post about the event states.

Bussiere, who is a software support analyst for the University of Maine System, spent years building his 43-inch-tall aluminum version of R2D2 from scratch as part of an international club of enthusiastic fans who connected through a website, now called Astromech.

“The guy who founded it is in Australia, so this is really international,” the Orrington resident said, with electronic parts scattered over his various work benches. “These guys would go to official events and take pictures and measurments to try and figure out the designs. I tried to stay as screen-accurate as possible. 2003 is when I started and 2008 was my first operation.”

He found the club after talking with friends about whether R2D2 was remote controlled or operated by a midget inside, and he did an online search and found both were true.

Bussiere didn’t just want a model that looked like the real R2D2, he wanted one that would act like the droid, so he added movement, lights and sounds and things like a random holographic projector that make his R2 look and act like the original.

In his basement, Bussiere has various parts that he or other club members have built or ordered that he is still trying to figure out how to install so they work, including R2’s “CPU probe that he uses to open doors and access computers, aluminum rocket boosters that were made by a club member, a scanner from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ when he’s looking for Luke, and also in here in pieces, I’m still fine-tuning it, is his periscope and all the electronics. We got some club members who came up with an ingenious way to provide all the lighting for that.”

He’s also working on perfecting a way to project Princess Leia’s holographic plea for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi, featured in the original movie. He’s using the same image he used when he visited with Sarah Smiley’s family for her blog, Dinner with the Smileys in May 2012.

Adding the droid’s different components has taken a lot of technical work, including adding code to make different software work together seamlessly. Bussiere has posted almost everything he’s learned or copied from club members on his blog, for replica builders who want to follow in his footsteps.

“Most of these [replicas] are made out of wood. I made mine out of metal so he was stronger and kids could touch him,” said Bussiere, who has spent countless hours visiting with sick children at hospitals, in schools or at charity events all over the region, many that are featured on his Paul’s R2-D2 Facebook page.

He doesn’t take money for the visits or public appearances. Bussiere, who describes himself as a devout “Star Wars” fan searching for his princess Leia, is getting a free ticket to the premiere and possibly some popcorn for showing up at the Bangor movie theater. He said he and his R2 make the appearance simply to make people happy.

He said when his R2 rolls into a hospital room, the sick kids forget about their illnesses.

“They have a complete conversations with this guy. Hospitals are not fun places to be, and anytime you can take their minds off their illness it is welcome,” said Bussiere, who was inspired to do the charity work after watching his godson, Jake, who died in 1995, benefit from the Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish, and the Maine Air National Guard, who granted his wish to sit in the pilot’s seat of an aircraft. “It’s a huge honor to do those things. And the best part is I get to go along. I carry a giant helicopter controller and a Windows Xbox controller and nobody notices me.”

Bussiere said it never gets old.

“That’s the mission R2 and I have, paying it forward, one smile at a time,” the local “Star Wars” fan said.