||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (December 2014)|
|Star Wars character|
|Portrayed by||Peter Mayhew (Episodes III–VII, The Star Wars Holiday Special)|
|Voiced by||Dee Bradley Baker (Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars)|
|Position||First Mate on Millennium Falcon|
Chewbacca, or "Chewie", is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. Chewbacca belongs to the Wookiee species, who are tall, hirsute bipeds native to the planet of Kashyyyk. Chewbacca is fiercely loyal to Han Solo, and serves as co-pilot on Solo's Millenium Falcon. Chewbacca was portrayed by actor Peter Mayhew in the Star Wars films. The character has also appeared on television, in books, comics, and video games.
Chewbacca, a 200-year-old Wookiee, becomes Han Solo's companion after Han, then an Imperial officer, refused an order to kill him, for which Han was dismissed from the Imperial Navy and became a smuggler. To repay this debt, Chewbacca protected Han for the rest of his life, and served as his co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon. Standing at 8 feet tall, Chewbacca is a fearsome sight. His weapon of choice is the Wookiee bowcaster (a crossbow-shaped directed-energy weapon). Chewbacca was named one of the "greatest sidekicks" in film history by Entertainment Weekly.
Chewbacca's creation as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" was inspired by George Lucas seeing his own dog sitting up on the passenger seat of his car. The dog, named Indiana, also inspired the name of the lead character in another one of Lucas' film franchises – Indiana Jones. It is said that Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.
In all four screen appearances, Chewbacca was played by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height of 7'3" (2.2 m). Five identical costumes were made for Mayhew: in the three original films and a holiday special, the suits were made of yak hair and mohair. In Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more comfortable materials, though Mayhew's filming only lasted a day. Only Mayhew's blue eyes could be seen in his costume, but fans easily recognize him by his gestures, and his co-workers claimed ability to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.
Chewbacca's voice was created by the original films' sound designer, Ben Burtt, from recordings of walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers, and badgers in Burtt's personal menagerie. The individual recordings were mixed at different ratios for Chewbacca's different utterances. One of the most prominent elements in the voice was a black bear named Tarik, from Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California.
First appearing in Star Wars, Chewbacca and Han Solo accept a charter to take Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to the planet Alderaan. When they find the planet destroyed by the Death Star, the two smugglers are drawn into the Rebel Alliance.
In the prequel film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca and Tarfful fight in the Clone Wars when their planet Kashyyyk is invaded. They also help Jedi Master Yoda escape after Commander Gree and an unidentified clone scout trooper are ordered to turn on Yoda by Palpatine. Chewbacca is not identified until Yoda thanks him at the end of a scene, rendering his appearance something of an easter egg.
The 1978 television program Star Wars Holiday Special introduces Chewbacca's family: Mallatobuck (his wife), Lumpawarrump (his son) and Attichitcuk, Chief of the Kaapauku Tribe (his father). They live together on Kashyyyk. The Star Wars Holiday Special consisted of a frame story in which Chewbacca and Han must prevent Darth Vader from spoiling Life Day, and get home to be with Chewbacca's family. It aired only once.
In the season 3 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Chewbacca is captured by Trandoshan hunters, but is freed by Ahsoka Tano and agrees to help her and two younglings escape. He builds a transmitter out of parts from the damaged Trandoshan ship, but it seems unable to work. Later, he and Ahsoka attack the Trandoshan fortress, killing many in sight, before they are found and assisted by other Wookiees led by Tarfful.
Chewbacca's family also appears in the Non-Canon Star Wars Legends books (Star Wars books published before December 2014), most notably The Wookiee Storybook, The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, and The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn by A. C. Crispin. The latter also introduces other family members, including a sister named Kallabow and cousins named Dryanta and Jowdrrl, as well as the matriarch, Ellen.
In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, it is explained how and why he is forced to leave his home planet of Kashyyyk, narrowly escaping the first major planetary attack and enslaving. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine (Lord Sidious) enslave most of the planet's population of Wookiees to get the Death Star back on schedule. It also explains how he joins a ship of smugglers that are friendly to the Jedi.
The novel The Hutt Gambit explains how Chewbacca and Han first meet when Han, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Han's commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Han refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a "life-debt" to Han, and the two become business partners and best friends.
The 1999 novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore (the first in the New Jedi Order series) marks Chewbacca's last chronological appearance in the Star Wars Legends universe. Chewbacca dies when he sacrifices his life to save Han's son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and one of its moons. Lumpawarrump and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca's life debt to Han. Han initially protests, but relents by the end of the series.
Chewbacca appears in the third book of the Origami Yoda series. The book is titled The Secret of the Fortune Wookie and also stars Han as translator.
Lucasfilm followed Vector Prime with a four-issue comic book titled Star Wars: Chewbacca, in which C-3PO and R2-D2 travel the galaxy to collect the stories of beings who knew or met the Wookiee.
In Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Chewbacca appears briefly at the Mos Eisley spaceport as an NPC, assisting Jaden Korr in disabling the tractor beams holding both the Millennium Falcon and the Raven's Claw captive.
In LucasArts' game Kinect Star Wars, the player acts as gunner on a spacecraft piloted by a young Chewbacca.
In Star Wars Battlefront II, Chewbacca is a playable hero on the rebels side.
He was a playable (LEGO version) character in LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy and LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game as he had a big role in the original trilogy movies but is only in one level in The Video Game. The level is where Chewbacca's home is under attack, Yoda helps him and so at the end of the level Chewbacca and another Wookie lead him to a space pod to escape, just as in the film.
IGN has been fond of the character, choosing the character as the 9th top Star Wars character, listing his relationship with Han Solo as one of their top 10 movie bromances, claiming him as one of the characters they would like to see in The Clone Wars, and choosing him as one of the characters they'd like to see in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and (along with Han Solo) its sequel. UGO Networks listed the character as "one of the most bad-ass archers in popular culture."
In contrast, Roger Ebert in his 1997 review of the Special Edition re-release of The Empire Strikes Back declared that the character gave the worst performance of the film: "This character was thrown into the first film as window dressing, was never thought through, and as a result has been saddled with one facial expression and one mournful yelp. Much more could have been done. How can you be a space pilot and not be able to communicate in any meaningful way? Does Han Solo really understand Chew's monotonous noises? Do they have long chats sometimes?"
Chewbacca is one of the few fictional characters to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards. Because fans complained that he should have received a medal along with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, MTV presented the award as a medal bestowed by Carrie Fisher. Peter Mayhew had voiced concern about Chewbacca being skipped in the original medal scene as well, but noted that Chewbacca does get the last 'line' in the film as compensation.
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- Hutt Gambit
- Jedi Academy
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