Actor Peter Mayhew played the popular Star Wars character Chewbacca.
Actor Peter Mayhew played the popular Star Wars character Chewbacca. Lionel Midford Publicity

Getting under Chewy’s very furry skin

PETER Mayhew has a theory about why Chewbacca is the Star Wars character loved by all ages.

"I figure that he is a teddy bear," Mayhew told APN.

"Everybody has a teddy bear or security blanket at some stage in their lives."

Mayhew is the original and only actor to play the large hairy Wookiee warrior in George Lucas's galactic film franchise.

A stand-in was used for a brief period when Mayhew was unwell, but the substitute couldn't imitate his distinctive walk.

"It just didn't work," he said. "I went back the next week, did those things again and we moved on."

In the absence of lines, Mayhew developed the now iconic character's signature body language.

"When I was told that he could not communicate verbally I figured right, this is going to be a mime," he said.

"I have a very distinctive walk which gives the character his own characteristics."

He also dispels the misconception that he was responsible for Chewbacca's guttural roar.

"It wasn't me. It was a selection of bear and dog noises recorded at one of the zoos," he said.

"It was then taken back to the sound editing place, chopped up and put in."

He doesn't like breaking the news to fans though.

"People will try it, and sometimes you have to laugh," he said.

"They think it's great. It's one of those situations where you just say 'yes, that is good'.

"I haven't got the heart to tell them that it's almost impossible to do it."

The 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith saw Mayhew reprise Chewbacca more than 20 years since he'd played the Wookiee in 1983's Return of the Jedi.

Even now, nearly 10 years since Revenge of the Sith, Mayhew said attending fan events, charity functions and answering fan mail is a full-time job.

"When you've got a character like this you've obviously got to concentrate on him and his reputation," he said.

"It's a full-time job. It's seven days a week."

But the 69-year-old certainly isn't complaining.

He's in the country for this week's Supanova Pop Culture Expo on the Gold Coast.

"It's my way of saying thank you to the fans. They've made me what I am."

Geek central

The Supanova Pop Culture Expo will be held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre from April 4-6.



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