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Peter Mayhew's incredible height made him the perfect choice to inhabit the massive Chewbacca costume for the original Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, that size also takes its toll on a body. Peter Mayhew recently revealed on Twitter that he has undergone spinal surgery. The good news is that it appears to have been successful and he is now recovering. He sent out a message to his fans to apologize for being uncommunicative recently and to thank those who performed the procedure.
Peter Mayhew made his debut in Star Wars: A New Hope as Chewbacca and the role has been good to him ever since. In addition to inhibiting the suit for the original Star Wars trilogy he also wore the costume for everything from theme park rides to The Muppet Show and Glee as well as lending the voice of Chewbacca to several Star Wars animated projects and video games. His last official performance as Chewbacca was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Officially he was listed as the "Chewbacca Consultant" for Star Wars: The Last Jedi where the role was taken over by Joonas Suotamo, who doubled for Mayhew when necessary in The Force Awakens.
Peter Mayhew says the surgery will help with his mobility which is great news. One assumes that if he was having mobility problems that may have been part of the reason he relinquished the Chewbacca role. Mayhew is over seven feet tall due to a connective tissue disorder called Marfan Syndrome. Generally speaking, human being aren't supposed to be seven feet tall and, as such, Mayhew's spine apparently needed some help to continue to support his body. At 74-years-old Mayhew should still have many more years with us, so it's nice to know he'll be feeling better.
Several notable friends have responded to Peter Mayhew's post will well wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery, among them Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.
While Peter Mayhew may be in much better shape going forward, we've likely still seen the last of his as Chewbacca on the big screen, though we certainly might hear him portraying the character in relevant places. Mayhew did voice Chewbacca in an episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, and the recent news that the show will be coming back could mean an additional opportunity for Mayhew to play the role that made him world famous.