[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”21353″ img_size=”900×500″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]As we celebrate Star Wars Day and remembering the late Peter Mayhew, it is with great respect and tribute that we discuss how Peter Mayhew became Chewbacca and the lasting impressions he made on his fellow cast mates.
When George Lucas was looking to cast Chewbacca, he mainly knew he wanted one important thing. Height. In fact he originally offered the role to David Prowse, but he became another important figure in the film, Darth Vader. Fortunately for Lucas and for us all, Mayhew was discovered in of all places, as an orderly at King’s County Hospital. A photographer snapped a picture of him helping to hang a sign (without the benefit of a ladder). This led to him being recognized by producers of Ray Harryhausen’s action fantasy Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. They were needing someone of some stature to play a character in the film. He was cast as the Minoton, a huge half-man half-bull bronze creature.
Having exactly what Lucas had envisioned, Mayhew was cast as Harrison Ford’s loyal sidekick Chewy. He became a fan favorite as the Wookie who was known to lose his temper and was a bad sport when losing at holographic chess. All of this while not really saying anything. Chewy’s voice was created by Ben Burtt, as he explained in this video clip.
For his part, Mayhew thought of Chewbacca as a big “teddy bear.” He explained as much in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone.
My character is a teddy bear, basically. I bet you, if you looked around your office, how many people had a teddy bear as a youngster or a security blanket as a youngster? And that’s what Chewie is, he looks after everybody.
Mayhew filled the role of Chewbacca’s on and off for over 30 years, although his health eventually forced him to share the role with Joonas Suotamo and then pass it on after The Force Awakens. Now with his death, his fellow Star Wars cast mates and crew have shared their remembrances.
We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.
What was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness and his gentleness was so close to what a Wookiee is. He just radiated happiness and warmth. He was always up for a laugh and we just hit it off immediately and stayed friends for over 40 years.
Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature – and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend, and I’m saddened by his passing.
Joonas Suotamo Tweeted this:
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
Mayhew touched so many lives and it is fitting that we remember him and the late Carrie Fisher on this day of celebration and remembrance. Rest In Peace Peter and Carrie, Your Star Wars family will ALWAYS remember you.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.