Peter Mayhew

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For other people named Peter Mayhew, see Peter Mayhew (disambiguation).
Peter Mayhew
Peter Mayhew 2015.jpg
Mayhew at the Florida SuperCon, June 2015
Born (1944-05-19) 19 May 1944 (age 72)
Barnes, England, UK
Residence Boyd, Texas, U.S.
Nationality British, American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1976–present
Known for Playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise
Height 7 ft 3 in (221 cm)
Spouse(s) Angie Luker (1999–present)

Peter Mayhew (born 19 May 1944)[1] is an English/American actor who holds American citizenship and is best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series.

Early life[edit]

Mayhew was born on 19 May 1944 in Barnes, in South West London, where he was also raised.[1] His height is not a product of gigantism — "I don't have the big head" — but of a connective tissue disorder called Marfan syndrome.[2][3] His peak height was 7 feet 3 inches (221 cm).[4]


Early work[edit]

Mayhew got his first acting job in 1976 when the producers of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger discovered him from a photograph in a newspaper article about men with large feet, and cast him in the role of the minotaur.[5][6]


Mayhew at the Big Apple Con, 14 November 2008, sitting in front of an image of his most famous role as Chewbacca

When casting his first Star Wars film, producer George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the hairy alien Chewbacca. He originally had in mind 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) bodybuilder David Prowse, but instead Prowse chose to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search which turned up Mayhew, who was working as an orderly at King's College Hospital in Camberwell, and says that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.[5][7][8]

Mayhew has played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films: the original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[9] He played the role in the 1978 television film Star Wars Holiday Special and in an appearance on The Muppet Show. He also recorded dialogue for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 finale episode "Wookiee Hunt".[10][11]

Mayhew plays the role in commercials and in hospital appearances for sick children and 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. He appeared on NBC's Identity, where his identity was based on the fact that he played Chewbacca and was a frequent guest in the early days of Slice of SciFi.

While Mayhew is expected to portray Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the as-yet untitled Episode IX movie, he will not reprise his role as Chewbacca in the Han Solo spin-off movie. Joonas Suotamo, who split time with Mayhew on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will portray Chewbacca.[12]

Other work[edit]

Outside Star Wars, Mayhew has appeared in the 1978 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.


Mayhew has written two books for younger audience: "Growing Up Giant"[13] which explains that being different is a strength instead of a weakness and anti-bullying book for children "My Favorite Giant".[14]

Personal life[edit]

Mayhew lives in Boyd, Texas[15] and is a business owner. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas.[16] In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he joked that he did not 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 Chewbacca does not get a medal in the film, he does get the last line, when he roars.[17]

Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery in 2013.[18] In January 2015, Mayhew was briefly hospitalized near his home in Texas, due to a bout of pneumonia.[19][20]

In 2013, Mayhew was crowned "Emperor for Life" by the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. [21]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1977 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger Minoton Uncredited [5]
Star Wars Chewbacca [9]
1978 Terror The Mechanic
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Chewbacca [9]
1982 Return of the Ewok Video short
1983 Return of the Jedi [9]
1987 Star Tours Short, uncredited
2004 Comic Book: The Movie Himself
2005 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Chewbacca [9]
2008 Yesterday Was a Lie Dead Man
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Chewbacca [9]
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
2019 Star Wars: Episode IX


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Donny & Marie Chewbacca Episode # 3.1
1978 Star Wars Holiday Special TV Special
1980 The Muppet Show Episode: The Stars of Star Wars
1981 Dark Towers The Tall Knight 5 episodes
1985 The Kenny Everett Television Show Various Episode #3.3
2011 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Chewbacca Episode: Wookiee Hunt, voice
Glee Episode: Extraordinary Merry Christmas


  1. ^ a b "Entertainment". Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter. 2009-05-19. p. C6. 
  2. ^ Karl Quinn (12 April 2014). "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew in Melbourne for Supernova fan convention". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Vankin, Jonathan (20 January 2015). "'Star Wars' actor, Peter 'Chewbacca' Mayhew, 70, stricken with pneumonia - sends fans message from hospital". Inquisitr. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Peter Mayhew". 
  5. ^ a b c Clark, Mark (2015). Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1480360181. 
  6. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (19 May 2015). "15 Chewbacca Facts in Honour of Peter Mayhew's Birthday". Mental Floss. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Gonzalez Jr., Arturo F. (26 September 1977). "Unzipped from His Wookie Suit, Peter Mayhew of Star Wars Is Zapped into Near Penury". People. 8 (13). Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Mayhew, Peter. "Peter Mayhew David Prowse at Salt Lake City Comicon". YouTube. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Ben Child (8 April 2014). "Original Chewbacca actor set to return in Star Wars: Episode VII". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars', retrieved 2011-05-31 
  11. ^ "The Clone Wars Episode Guide: Wookiee Hunt",, retrieved April 1, 2011 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Peter Mayhew; Angie Mayhew (19 November 2013). My Favorite Giant. One Mans Posse Production. ISBN 978-1-62098-826-8. 
  14. ^ My Favorite Giant by Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), by Carrie Goldman
  15. ^ Malone, Megan (February 9, 2012). "Chewbacca Making Dallas-Area Appearances" NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth". KXAS-TV.
  16. ^ "Star Wars actor who played Chewbacca to become American citizen". The Canadian Press. 2005-10-12. p. 16. 
  17. ^ "'Star Wars' actor, others pledge their allegiance", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, People Watch, Metro Section, page B2, October 18, 2005.
  18. ^ "Wookie knee repair: 'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hopes to walk again after Fort Worth surgery". The Dallas Morning News. September 11, 2013
  19. ^ Sacks, Ethan (January 19, 2015). "‘Star Wars’ star Peter Mayhew hospitalized for pneumonia: report ". Daily News (New York).
  20. ^ Parker, Ryan (January 19, 2015). "'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hospitalized with pneumonia ". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ "Chewbacchus 2013: Return of the Wookiee — Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus". Retrieved 2016-12-20. 

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