Peter Mayhew

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Peter Mayhew
Mayhew at the Big Apple Con, 14 November 2008, sitting in front of an image of his most famous role as Chewbacca
Born (1944-05-19) 19 May 1944 (age 69)
Barnes, Surrey, England
Residence Boyd, Texas, United States
Nationality English
Citizenship United Kingdom, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1977–present
Known for Chewbacca
Home town Barnes, Surrey, England
Height 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)
Spouse(s) Angie Luker (1999–present)
Peter Mayhew on Twitter

Peter Mayhew (born 19 May 1944)[1] is an English actor. He is best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars films.

Early life[edit]

Mayhew was born on 19 May 1944 in Barnes, Surrey, where he was also raised.[1]


He got his first acting job in 1976 when the producers of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger discovered Mayhew from a photograph in a newspaper article about men with large feet, and they cast him in the role of the minotaur.

When casting roles for his first Star Wars film, producer George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the beastly Chewbacca. He originally had in mind 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) bodybuilder David Prowse, but he was instead cast to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search which turned up Mayhew, who says that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.

Mayhew has played the part of Chewbacca in four Star Wars films: the original trilogy (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He also played the role in the 1978 television film Star Wars Holiday Special as well as in an appearance on The Muppet Show and also recorded dialogue for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 finale episode "Wookiee Hunt".[2][3]

Mayhew also plays the role in commercials and for hospital appearances for sick children. When cast in the role, he studied the movement of large animals at the zoo to come up with an authentic sense of movement for Chewbacca. When Mayhew grew ill in the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back, a similarly tall stand in was used, but the actor could not match Mayhew's studied movement style and the scenes had to be re-shot upon Mayhew's recovery. Mayhew did not provide the voice of Chewbacca; that was created by the film's sound designer, Ben Burtt, by mixing together the growls of different animals.

Mayhew has made numerous appearances as Chewbacca outside the Star Wars films. Mayhew as Chewbacca was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Film Awards 1997. He was additionally honoured at the release of the new PlayStation Portable where he dressed as Chewbacca and held up the new PSP slim version.

He has made other media appearances without the Chewbacca costume. Mayhew appeared on NBC's Identity, where his identity was based on the fact that he played Chewbacca.

Outside Star Wars, Mayhew has appeared in the horror film Terror, directed by Norman J. Warren. In the English version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy, he provided the voice for Susha.

Despite his recent health setbacks, it has been reported that Mayhew will reprise his role of Chewbacca in Star Wars Episode VII which is scheduled to start filming in May 2014 and feature the return of cast members that appeared in the original trilogy.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Mayhew now lives in Boyd, Texas[5] and is a business owner. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas.[6] In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram[7] he joked that he didn't get a medal at this ceremony either, a reference to the Star Wars scene in which Luke and Han get medals but Chewbacca does not. Mayhew noted in an MTV interview that although he didn't get a medal in the film, he did get the last line: one of Chewbacca's roars.[8]

His peak height was 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m).[9]


Mayhew's height has stressed his knees and he was forced to undergo double knee replacement surgery in 2013.[10] However, he states that his height is a product not of gigantism—"I don't have the big head"—but of an overactive pituitary gland which was treated successfully in his mid-teens.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Entertainment". Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter. 2009-05-19. p. C6. 
  2. ^ Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars', retrieved 2011-05-31 
  3. ^ "The Clone Wars Episode Guide: Wookiee Hunt",, retrieved April 1, 2011 
  4. ^ Ford, Rebecca (April 7, 2014). "'Star Wars: Episode VII' Adds Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ Chewbacca Making Dallas-Area Appearances | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
  6. ^ "Star Wars actor who played Chewbacca to become American citizen". The Canadian Press. 2005-10-12. p. 16. 
  7. ^ 'Star Wars' actor, others pledge their allegiance, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, People Watch, Metro Section, page B2, October 18, 2005.
  8. ^ Interview - Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca Speaks!), 2008-04-30
  9. ^ All about Peter Mayhew
  10. ^ Wookie knee repair: 'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hopes to walk again after Fort Worth surgery, at the Dallas Morning News; published September 11, 2013
  11. ^ Karl Quinn (12 April 2014). "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew in Melbourne for Supernova fan convention". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 

External links[edit]