RIP Peter Mayhew.
Thank you for making Chewie real. You were one of my favourite Star Wars characters and one of my favourite Star Wars figures. I’ll never forget writing to Kenner to ask for a replacement gun because we lost the original one. Kenner sent me three new ones!
I love you and I love your gun! But I never want to play chess with you;)
To the question, “What are you asked most often?”
Mayhew replies: “There are always three:
-What was Harrison Ford like to work with;
-Was it hot in the suit?;
-How did you go the toilet?”
Question: OK, so, how hot was it in the suit?
Answer: “It was pretty warm, it depended on where you were. The only place I really appreciated it was when we did Empire in the scenes up in Norway in the snow and ice. Desert work’s not too bad, because you’ve always got a wind.
When you’re in studio under constant lighting, it’s like sitting in a kitchen when the oven door is open and turned right up. It gets pretty warm. You get used to it.”
Things you probably didn’t know about Chewbacca
* Peter Mayhew doesn’t do the voice. Chewie’s roaring bark is dubbed in later, though when filming Mayhew will grunt and shriek as a cue to other actors.
* Size does matter – at least foot size. Mayhew was an orderly at a London hospital when he was featured in a newspaper story about men with large feet. That caught the eye of the producers of the 1977 film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, who cast him as a minotaur. That led to his subsequent casting in Star Wars (1977), Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). He also was Chewbacca in the 1978 cult fave Star Wars Holiday Special, which featured such actors as Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman alongside Star Wars principal actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Bootlegs of the much-panned holiday special can be found on eBay.
* The costume? Mostly mohair. The shaggier parts are yak hair.
Many thanks to D&C archives: an interview with Peter ‘Chewbacca’ Mayhew of “Star Wars” fame: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/blogs/business/2014/04/29/from-the-musty-dc-archives-an-interview-with-peter-chewbacca-mayhew-of-star-wars-fame/8472099/
“The Force will be with you, always.”