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It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.

– Han Solo, A New Hope

Today we celebrate Peter Mayhew at his 71st birthday (born 1944)

Peter Mayhew was born in England, UK and plays Chewbacca. He got the role because of his hight, he stands 221 cm  or 7’3″. Before filming began on Star Wars, Mayhew visited a zoo where he studied the movement of bears, monkeys, gorillas and other animals with traits reminiscent of a Wookiee. And he created the walk and movements of the wookiee Chewbacca. In The Empire Strikes Back he was ill a day during filming and director Irvin Kershner substituted another extremely tall actor in Mayhew’s place. This proved to be a mistake because the substitute was unable to accurately portray Chewbacca. Kershner was forced to discard all of the footage and re-shoot once Mayhew regained his health.
Read more about Peter Mayhew at his official website.

Chewbacca is a Wookiee and Han Solo’s fur covered co-pilot. A warrior of great strenght from planet Kashyyyk.

George Lucas’ inspiration for Chewbacca was his loyal pet, an Alaskan malamute.
Chewbacca’s voice is a combination of numerous animal sounds from Sound Designer Ben Burrt’s personal library. Walruses, camels, bears and badger is mixed with the sound of Tarik, a black bear from the Happy Hollow Zoo in San José, California.