|Star Wars character|
Chewbacca in Star Wars.
|Portrayed by||Peter Mayhew|
|Position||First Mate on Millennium Falcon|
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.
Chewbacca, a 200 year old Wookiee, became Han Solo's first mate and companion after Solo, then an Imperial Captain, refused an order to kill him while Chewbacca was a slave of the Empire. Solo was dismissed from the Imperial Navy for disobedience and became a smuggler. Chewbacca owed a life debt to Han and would protect Han Solo for the rest of his life. Chewbacca was named one of the "greatest sidekicks" in film history by Entertainment Weekly.
In all four screen appearances, Chewbacca was played by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height — 7'3" (2.2 m). Five identical costumes were made for Mayhew to wear. In the three original films and a holiday special, the suits were made of yak hair and mohair. For Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more comfortable materials, though Mayhew's filming only lasted for a day. Only Mayhew's blue eyes could be seen in his costume, but fans easily recognize him by his distinctive gestures; his co-workers said they were able to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.
Chewbacca's voice was created by the original films' sound designer, Ben Burtt, from a mix of recordings of walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers and badgers in Burtt's personal library. 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.
Authenticity of the character
Initially in 2013, the casting directors for Star Wars Episode VII were looking for a new actor to replace Peter Mayhew for the role of Chewbacca, since Mayhew was experiencing mobility problems. However, in April 2014 indiewire.com reported that in fact Peter Mayhew will reprise the role of Chewbacca for a fifth time in a Star Wars film. While Mayhew's body has changed somewhat over the years, the Chewbacca audiences will see in Episode VII will have the same proportions, the same build, and the same eyes as the original Chewbacca from Episodes III, IV, V, and VI.
First appearing in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 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 that the planet has been destroyed by the Death Star, however, the two smugglers are drawn into the Rebel Alliance.
In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Chewbacca and Han Solo become important figures in the Alliance, and eventually help the Rebels defeat the Galactic Empire.
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 to get Jedi Master Yoda to safety after Commander Gree and an unidentified clone scout trooper are ordered to turn on Yoda by Palpatine, Chewbacca using his traditional weapon, the Bowcaster. 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 Han and Chewbacca 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 Tarfull.
Chewbacca's family also appears in some Star Wars books, 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 explains 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 that Chewbacca and Solo first meet when Solo, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Solo's commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Solo refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a "life-debt" to Solo, 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 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. Lumpawaroo (Lumpawarrump) and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca's life debt to Solo. 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 his lifetime companion Han Solo as translator.
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.
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'd 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.
- George Lucas, in DVD bonus disc documentary, "Characters of Star Wars"
- The Characters of Star Wars Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials
- Sansweet, Stephen J. (1998-06-30). The Star Wars Encyclopedia (1st edition ed.). Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-40227-8.
- Ben Schott, Schott's Miscellany Calendar 2009 (New York: Workman Publishing, 2008), March 21.
- Peter Mayhew Biography, at Screenrush. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
- Star Wars Databank | Chewbacca: Behind the Scenes
- Star Wars Episode IV
- Star Wars Episodes V & VI
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Ford, Rebecca (April 7, 2014). "'Star Wars: Episode VII' Adds Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- Berman, John; Ted Gerstein (2007-12-20). "Holiday Specials Gone Bad; The 'Star Wars Holiday Special' Flop Lives On". ABC News.
- Star Wars Holiday Special FAQ
- Hutt Gambit
- Jedi Academy
- "Top 100 Star Wars Characters". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Scott Collura (18 March 2009). "Top 10 Movie Bromances". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Eric Goldman (11 November 2010). "Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Characters We'd Like to See". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Jesse Schedeen (21 July 2008). "Players Wanted: The Force Unleashed". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Jesse Schedeen (10 September 2008). "Players Wanted: The Force Unleashed 2". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- T J Dietsch (13 May 2010). "The 11 Most Bad-Ass Archers in Pop Culture". UGO Networks. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Roger Ebert (21 February 1997). "The Empire Strikes Back". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 29 February 2012.