CHEWBACCA DID NOT GET HIS WARMTH from the fur. Peter Mayhew’s 7-foot-3-inch frame gave the towering Wookiee a loping gait and intimidating presence, but the actor’s puppy-dog sweetness also emanated through the layers of yak hair to give personality to one of the most famous alien creatures in movie history.
The Star Wars mainstay, who died at age 74 on April 30, retired from the role due to knee troubles and declining health, but he did reprise Chewie one last time for 2015’s The Force Awakens. He spoke extensively with EW before the movie opened in December that year.
“I’m happy to be back here with Episode VII, with Han and all the old guys, as well as the newer stars,” Mayhew said of Han Solo actor Harrison Ford and his co-workers.
“As Han—I mean, Harrison—was quoted: It’s an old married couple... We have stayed with each other in a long, great relationship. People don’t have many relationships like that. It’s kind of like Laurel and Hardy!”
Although Mayhew was largely confined to a wheelchair around that time, director J.J. Abrams brought him back for many scenes aboard the Millennium Falcon and retained Mayhew as a “Chewbacca consultant” to Joonas Suotamo, the now-32-year-old who would go on to play the role full-time. Mayhew also recalled the harrowing first day of shooting with Ford, before a set door accidentally closed on the actor’s leg, delayi