Star Wars fans were saddened to learn about the recent death of Peter Mayhew, the man who brought the Wookie Chewbacca to life for the majority of the franchise. Friends and colleagues have been sharing their thoughts on the iconic actor. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars has penned his own tribute to the man where he talks about how Mayhew was discovered and placed in the film that would define his career.
According to George Lucas, finding somebody to play Chewbacca was actually quite complicated. While all Lucas was really looking for was somebody tall enough to play the part, finding that proved difficult. Eventually however, a hospital attendant named Peter Mayhew was found and Lucas cast him as soon as he saw how tall the man was. According to Lucas...
Peter was a wonderful, wonderful man. He kept his job in the hospital through the first three movies. But he fell in love with the character. And then as Star Wars grew in fame, and he started doing more festivals and public appearances, he realized he could actually make a living just off the personal appearances. He was very gentle, very sweet, very easy to get along with. He was more like a Wookie than I originally imagined a Wookie to be. Originally, I envisioned Chewie as some big ferocious beast, but Peter's Chewie wasn't really ferocious. No matter how hard he tried, he wasn't ferocious. He would be your best friend until he got angry, then stand back. He was a gentle giant.
The idea that Peter Mayhew kept his job working at a hospital while also being in the biggest movie franchise of all-time is just adorable and hilarious.
While Mayhew would have a handful of other acting jobs over the course of his career, he really did just make a living being Chewbacca for the most part. It's clear he truly loved playing the character.
George Lucas' comments in THR are a wonderful tribute from the man who created Chewbacca and found the perfect person to give him life. While Lucas says he initially envisioned Chewbacca as a ferocious beast, it was Mayhew who turned him into the lovable giant he became. It's impossible to think of Chewbacca as anything else now.
Chewbacca will live on. Joonas Suotamo is set to bring the character back in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While Mayhew may never inhabit the suit again, his contribution will certainly never be forgotten.