Chewbacca, or Chewie, has always been a curious character in pop culture. He’s always been a bit mysterious and he always makes people wonder, “Who really came up with this idea?” But while it might be a mystery, it’s no doubt that he’s actually one of the most influential characters in the Star Wars franchise. He’s basically the mascot, even though that probably wasn’t the intention at first.
Chewie has always gone about his business in his own way, it’s actually very interesting to see his character develop throughout the films without him even really speaking any real words whatsoever. While he does interact and communicate with the other individuals in the film, he has so much more depth to him than you might expect from the outside looking in. Throughout this article, we’ll be exploring everything there is to know about Chewie, from in character and the actor that played him, there’s so much to look through and discover!
We can’t wait to see how they include his character in future films and other projects, because at this point we probably all have a plushie of Chewie sitting on the shelf! We want to see more and more of his character development, it’s a must! From being inspired by a dog to having a fully working AC unit in the suit that was worn for Chewie, it’s safe to say that maybe we don’t know everything about this character, and yes we said a fully working air conditioning unit!
25 Inspired By A Dog
Yes! Did you know that Chewbacca was actually inspired by George Lucas’s pet doggy!? Apparently, his pet dog would always sit in the seat of his car as if he was the right-hand man of the ship, which is what would later inspire him to actually turn his dog into a character for the films. His dog also inspired many other characters Lucas has created for other movies. He’s so famous, more so than some of the cast members!
24 He’s Russian
The name of his character is actually Russian. It actually means dog in Russian as well, which would make sense, especially because of the above point we just mentioned. While this doesn’t really play a part in any of the parts of the films or novels, it is quite interesting to know where exactly the name came from because it is quite the unique and striking name, talk about being memorable! Not to mention many people don’t even know about this little fact!
23 An Old Guy
Apparently, while his age was overall a mystery for quite some time in the films, Chewbacca really is actually very old. In one of the films, it was briefly mentioned that he’s actually 200 years old. While that might not be that old for his kind, it is strange to know just how long he’s been in the universe in the films, especially looking back at the other films as well and knowing this information. We wonder how old he was in the other films as well!
22 Height Was A Factor
The actor for the role was actually chosen because of how tall he was, which was 7 feet 3 inches in total. That’s quite a tall guy! It’s not every day that you even see someone that tall. But you have to admit that it just wouldn’t look right if they chose an actor that was so much smaller and shorter. It would just look weird, and he probably wouldn’t even be that memorable, if you really think about it.
21 A Full On Cooling System
Because the suit was so hot to wear on set all the time, there had to be a water cooling system that could allow the actor to be in the suit for long periods of time.
If only we could all have our own personal air conditioning units with us at all times.
Part of the reason it was so hot was that it was made out of actual animal hairs, including rabbit and yak. Maybe digital is the way to go after all.
20 His Voice Was Rough To Find
One of the hardest things about this character was finding the right sound and voice Chewbacca would end up having. His language that he speaks is called Shyriiwook, and it was actually a combination of different noises from animals like lions, bears, and even badgers. This was the new norm for Chewbacca and it seemed to work very well throughout the films. Who would have thought those were the animal choices for the sound that has become so iconic now!
19 He Wasn’t That Popular With Everyone
Believe it or not, many people, when the movie was first released, didn’t even find the character known as Chewbacca funny or beneficial for the film. They actually thought that he was the worst character in the whole film. Many believed that the character was a joke.
But we’re sure everyone knew who he was, he was too tall to miss!
Some even also said that the movie would be a complete flop because of Chewbacca, but oh how the tables have turned!
18 He Had Less Clothes At First
When Chewbacca was still an idea when planning the film, in the second draft he was actually showed off much more if you know what we mean. He even was originally created to be wearing armor of sorts and vests with cloth shorts, it was a strange image to picture, but we’re glad that they didn’t go with that version of Chewbacca and went the much more simple route! Why add more clutter when you can keep it simple and make more of an impact!?
17 Getting All The Awards
In the films, Luke and Han Solo actually won medals of valor, but Chewbacca never won an award even though he went through all the same things that they did. People were actually very mad about this, which actually encouraged people to make sure that he won an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He even accepted the award in his full-on costume, as well, and his speech was just grunts over and over again for his whole speech.
16 He Has A Whole Family
During a holiday special, it was discovered that Chewie does actually have a whole Wookiee family. They showcased their unique celebration and it was overall a very creepy yet special and endearing program to watch. But George Lucas actually hated the special so much!
It’s a bit creepy, but also cute at the same time!
He hated the special so much he decided to limit how it could be viewed and where it could be viewed back in the late 70s!
15 Big Feet Made The Character
In addition to his unique height, it was also his big feet that helped his career get started as an actor for Mayhew. Mayhew had huge feet and it’s one of the biggest reasons he got many of the jobs he did as an actor before working with George Lucas. It was actually a makeup artist that suggested he work with George Lucas and from there it was history. They worked so well together, and as you can see it lasted quite a while.
14 A Day Job Too?
Can you imagine actually keeping your day job when you are working on such a big film like Star Wars? Well, that’s exactly what Mayhew did, while he dressed up in a Wookiee costume for Chewbacca in between his work schedule, he was also working as a deputy head porter in a London hospital.
You can’t just spend your whole life as a Wookiee, that’s for sure!
He was fired, but they eventually hired him back after the film was finished.
13 Darth & Chewbacca Might Of Been The Same
The actor who ended up playing Darth Vader, David Prowse, who is also very very tall actually almost played Chewbacca because the role was offered to him. But he ended up playing Darth Vader simply because he wanted to be remembered more. He wanted to prove that villains are remembered more than heroes. Which we can’t disagree with! He was very right, even though his face was totally covered up and it wasn’t his actual voice that was used!
12 Hard To Stay In Character
Whenever the director needed to give some direction to Chewbacca on set, he would often dress up as one of the characters or even a droid to deliver the pointers, that way it would keep everyone in the same kind of mindset when they would be on set. Many actors have said that this helped very much when trying to stay in character since when you’re on a movie set it’s easy for that magic to be broken in an instant.
11 Strange Territory
When they were filming in an actual forest, it was actually quite dangerous since they were worried that Chewie might get shot because he looks like Bigfoot or even a bear from a far away distance. This was actually quite concerning, but nothing ever came from it thankfully. Even though it was pretty scary to go to work with that in the back of your mind, wondering if you might get hurt simply because someone can’t tell you’re filming a movie.
10 Monkeys Or Dogs
There seems to have also been quite a bit of influence from monkeys, as well as dogs. The mannerisms of a monkey have a direct influence on Chewie, from the interaction with their family to even how they walk and move. This is interesting to note, especially if you watch the films with this in mind, there is a quality about the way he moves that looks almost exactly the same as a monkey. Especially when he is interacting with people.
9 Getting Down The Head Tilt
Whenever Chewie listened to Han Solo talk, he always tilted his head almost like a dog, but it actually became a signature move on accident, simply because he always was ducking through doorways on the set.
The head tilt made such an impact on this character, even if it just sounds simple!
But at the end of the day, the move stuck and he actually made it a part of the signature Chewie mannerisms that everyone knows and loves so much.
8 Minimal Isn’t The Key
When the character of Chewbacca was first created, his role in the film wasn’t even going to be that big. He wasn’t going to be one of the main characters, but he was so important to the filming and he brought so much interest, he just had to be a part of the films more than originally planned. Overall, it worked really well in their favor and we can bet that the creators don’t regret involving Chewie more, he’s basically one of the most memorable characters.
7 Being Animated Was Tricky
It was probably so hard to get a Wookiee animated and it actually look realistic, but it turned out looking fantastic and inspired many scenes in the future that really brought more possibilities to the screen.
We don’t blame them for animating a Wookiee and finding it hard!
But Mayhew was invited to give some pointers on how Chewie acted, even put on old costumes, just to make sure that they animated him perfectly! He even told them that Chewie always has his mouth slightly open.
6 First Wookiee Ever Known
Did you know that Chewbacca is an actual alien? Also that Wookiees actually existed in other films that George Lucas had created in the past even before the famous series. He first introduced the name of these aliens in a movie about the future, where humans had to control their emotions and there were androids! While it was an accident that these aliens were called this, it is interesting to note that a name so random isn’t actually that random at all!
5 He Was A Dog At First!
Just like we mentioned before there has been some talk about Chewie actually being inspired by Lucas’ dog and even mannerisms of monkeys, but would you believe us if we told you that he was actually going to be a dog in the films!? While it might not be that big of a surprise, if you just sit back and picture all of the iconic scenes with Chewie, how weird would it be if instead they were just all dogs?
4 The Original Sketches Tell A Lot
In the original sketches of Chewie, not only was there much more exposed on the body of the Wookiee, but they also were seen wearing more armor and guns as well. It’s a huge difference from what we see on the screen, and we’re so glad that difference existed.
We’d love to know the whole story and how this character was created in the first place, that would be interesting!
We can’t imagine what Chewie would be like if they just had a ton of clothes on or none at all!
3 His Age Is A Mystery
While we did find out what his age was later on in the series, it was still something many people missed and didn’t know for quite some time. There used to be so much mystery surrounding this character, it’s actually a bit strange to see how much has come forward about the development of Chewbacca and how his character was made in the first place, since the magic of his character once was not knowing. Maybe there’s more we don’t know!
2 His Real Story
His story is actually very deep. It’s obvious that him and Han Solo are best friends, but there actually isn’t much information about how they became that close and how they became best friends that travel together and work together, but there are rumors. Many have believed that Han Solo rescued Chewie from being skinned by the Empire and instead set him free, while this might be explored more in future movies, right now we’re going to have the guess!
1 The Man Who Pulled It All Together
Overall, Peter Mayhew really pulled it all together. He made such a big impact on how the character was played, even when Chewie went digital. He had such a big role in personally developing the mannerisms we know Chewie for, if anyone else had taken the role it wouldn’t have been the same whatsoever. We’re so glad he had such a big role in the character, no pun intended! In all seriousness, we can’t wait to see what they tell us next about Chewie and Han Solo!