Chewbacca, nicknamed “Chewie”, is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. He is a Wookiee, a tall, hirsute biped and intelligent species from the planet Kashyyyk. Chewbacca is the loyal friend and associate of Han Solo, and serves as co-pilot on Solo’s spaceship, the Millennium Falcon. Chewbacca is portrayed by actor Peter Mayhew in the Star Wars films. The character has also appeared on television, in books, comics, and video games.
Let’s see some interesting facts about him!
1. Chewbacca, a 200-year-old Wookiee, becomes Han Solo’s companion after Han, an Imperial officer at the time, refused an order to kill him, for which Han was dismissed from the Imperial Navy and became a smuggler.
2. To repay this debt, Chewbacca protected Han for the rest of his life, and served as his co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon.
3. Standing at 8 feet tall, Chewbacca is covered with long hair, and wears only a bandolier.
4. His weapon of choice is the Wookiee bowcaster (a crossbow-shaped directed-energy weapon).
5. Chewbacca was named one of the “greatest sidekicks” in film history by Entertainment Weekly.
6. In Italy the name of Chewbacca was changed to Chewbecca and his nickname is Chewbe.
7. 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.
8. It is said that Chewbacca’s name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.
9. In all five screen appearances, Chewbacca was played by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height of 7’3″ (2.2 m).
10. Five identical costumes were made for Mayhew: in the three original films and a holiday special, the suits were made of yak hair and mohair.
11. In Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more comfortable materials, though Mayhew’s filming only lasted a day.
12. Only Mayhew’s blue eyes could be seen in his costume, but fans easily recognize him by his gestures, and his co-workers claimed the ability to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.
13. Chewbacca’s voice was created by the original films’ sound designer, Ben Burtt, from recordings of walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers, and badgers in Burtt’s personal menagerie.
14. 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.
15. The original costume was created by Stuart Freeborn and his wife Kay Freeborn, who hand knitted the torso section.
16. During preproduction of The Force Awakens, Creature Effects Supervisor Neal Scanlan commented that the original suit was far more sophisticated than they had originally realized, leading him to entirely scrap their first attempt at making the new suit, go back and study Freeborn’s work in order to better appreciate how it worked, and attempt to emulate it.
17. First appearing in Star Wars (1977), 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.
18. In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Chewbacca finds a dismantled C-3PO in a junk pile in Cloud City and rescues him from being melted down. He later tries to repair him, but does a terrible job at it. Before Han is frozen in carbonite, he asks Chewbacca to look after Princess Leia for him.
19. In Return of the Jedi (1983), Chewbacca pretends to be the prisoner of a bounty hunter named Boushh, which is actually Leia in disguise as part of Luke’s plan to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt.
20. During the Battle of Endor, Chewbacca and some Ewoks commandeer an AT-ST from the empire and use it to shoot down other walkers and imperial troops.
21. In the 2005 prequel film Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca and Tarfful fight in the Clone Wars when their planet Kashyyyk is invaded by the Separatist Alliance. They also help Yoda escape his clone troopers, who had been ordered to kill him. Chewbacca is not identified until Yoda says goodbye to him at the end of a scene.
22. On April 7, 2014, it was confirmed that Mayhew would reprise his role as Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the film, set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, he and Han are piloting a cargo vessel and find the Millennium Falcon, which had been stolen from them.
23. The Wrap reports that Chewbacca will appear in the upcoming Star Wars Anthology Han Solo spin off film, which will see a May 25, 2018 release.
24. 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.
25. In 2015, Marvel Comics published a five-issue miniseries titled Chewbacca written by Gerry Duggan and art by Phil Noto. The comic is part of the canon developed subsequent to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, and the end of Dark Horse Comics’ publication of Star Wars comics.
26. With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.
27. 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.
28. The Star Wars Holiday Special consisted of a frame story in which Chewbacca and Han must prevent Darth Vader from spoiling Life Day, and get home to be with Chewbacca’s family. It aired only once.
29. Chewbacca appears in the Han Solo Adventures trilogy of books written by Brian Daley, including Han Solo at Stars’ End, Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, originally published between 1979 and 1980.
30. Chewbacca’s family also appears in the non-canon Star Wars Legends books (Star Wars books published before December 2014), 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.
31. In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, set just after the events in Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca is forced to leave Kashyyyk after he narrowly escapes a major Imperial attack on the planet. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine enslave most of Kashyyyk’s population for forced labor on the construction of the Death Star. To escape, he joins a ship of smugglers who are friendly to the Jedi.
32. The novel The Hutt Gambit explains how Chewbacca and Han first meet when Han, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Han’s commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Han refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a “life-debt” to Han, and the two become business partners and best friends.
33. In the book Heirs of the Force, part of the Young Jedi Knights series, Chewbacca has a nephew, Kallabow’s son named Lowbacca who goes to the Jedi Academy.
34. In the 1999 novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore, the first in the New Jedi Order series, Chewbacca sacrifices his life to save Han’s son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and one of its moons. Lumpawarrump and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca’s life debt to Han.
35. Chewbacca appears in the third book of the Origami Yoda series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookie (in origami form) and in some of the subsequent books of the series.
36. Lucasfilm followed Vector Prime with a four-issue comic book titled Star Wars: Chewbacca, in which C-3PO and R2-D2 travel the galaxy to collect the stories of beings who knew or met the Wookiee.
37. In the fighting game Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, Chewbacca is a playable character.
38. 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.
39. In LucasArts’ game Kinect Star Wars, the player acts as gunner on a spacecraft piloted by a young Chewbacca.
40. In Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, Chewbacca is a playable hero on the rebels side.
41. He was a playable (LEGO version) character in Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy and Lego Star Wars: The Video Game as he had a big role in the original trilogy movies but is only in one level in The Video Game. The level is where Chewbacca’s home is under attack, Yoda helps him and so at the end of the level Chewbacca and another Wookie lead him to a space pod to escape, just as in the film.
42. Chewbacca will be a playabale character on the Death Star DLC from Star Wars: Battlefront 2015, which will come out on September.
43. The director of the “Empire Strickes Back”, Irvin Kershner, had a very particular way of working with the actors on The Empire Strikes Back. He’d give directions to the actors in droid costumes or under masks while they were in costume to connect. He said, “I’d try to talk with Chewbacca only when the actor was fully costumed. Then I was staring at the Wookiee and not just an actor inside a Chewbacca suit. That helped tremendously.”
44. Chewbacca’s signature growl-laden voice was the first sound Ben Burtt was hired to create for Star Wars. Burtt knew Chewie would speak in non-English and sound like an animal. He collected sounds of bears, badgers, and lions and extracted various pieces from all those recordings to create different emotions and noises for the Wookiee.
45. During filming of Return of the Jedi, Mayhew was told not to wander around while in costume. They were on location in the California redwoods, and there was some concern he would be mistaken as Bigfoot by hunters and be injured.
46. David Prowse had the opportunity to play Chewbacca or Darth Vader. He wanted to be the villain so he said no to Chewbacca instantly.
47. As Wookiees are large furry creatures with humanoid qualities who live among the trees, it’s easy to picture apes or monkeys as inspiration. Mayhew did in fact study a monkey family to see how they interacted with each other. He said he thought it helped with characterization.
48. To create the original costume for Chewbacca, Lucas hired legendary makeup supervisor Stuart Freeborn, recruited because of his work on the apes in the “Dawn of Man” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Freeborn had also previously worked with Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove to effectively disguise Peter Sellers in each of his three roles in that film.) Freeborn would go on to supervise the creation of Yoda in The Empire Strike Back and Jabba the Hutt and the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.
49. Chewbacca’s character design was based on concept art drawn by Ralph McQuarrie. Lucas had originally given McQuarrie a photo of a lemur for inspiration, and McQuarrie proceeded to draw the character as a female—but Chewbacca was soon changed to a male.
50. During the shooting of Star Wars, Mayhew kept working his day job as a deputy head porter in a London hospital. Though he was let go because of his sudden varying shooting schedule at Elstree Studios, he was eventually hired back after production wrapped.