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Peter Mayhew

For other people named Peter Mayhew, see Peter Mayhew (disambiguation).
Peter Mayhew
Mayhew at the Big Apple Con, 14 November 2008, sitting in front of an image of his most famous role as Chewbacca
Born (1944-05-19) 19 May 1944 (age 71)
Barnes, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Residence Boyd, Texas, United States
Nationality British, American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1977–present
Known for Chewbacca
Home town Barnes, Surrey, England, U.K.
Height Script error: No such module "convert".
Spouse(s) Angie Luker (1999–present)
Peter Mayhew on Twitter

Peter Mayhew (born 19 May 1944)[1] is a British-American actor. He is best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars films.

Early life

Mayhew was born on 19 May 1944 in Barnes, Surrey, where he was also raised.[1] His height is a product not of gigantism — "I don't have the big head" — but of an overactive pituitary gland secondary to a genetic disease called Marfan Syndrome[disputed ]. The overactive pituitary gland was treated successfully in his mid-teens.[2] His peak height was Script error: No such module "convert"..[3]


Early work

Mayhew got his first acting job in 1976 when the producers of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger discovered him from a photograph in a newspaper article about men with large feet, and cast him in the role of the minotaur.[citation needed]


When casting his first Star Wars film, producer George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the hairy alien Chewbacca. He originally had in mind Script error: No such module "convert". bodybuilder David Prowse, but instead Prowse chose to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search which turned up Mayhew, who says that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.[4]

When cast in the role, Mayhew studied the movement of large animals at the zoo to come up with an authentic sense of movement for Chewbacca.[citation needed] His work proved so distinctive that when Mayhew became ill during the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back and had to be replaced by a similarly tall stand-in, the new actor was unable to mimic Mayhew's movement style and the scenes had to be re-shot upon Mayhew's recovery.[citation needed] Mayhew did not provide the voice of Chewbacca; though he did speak Chewbacca's script-lines in English, they were dubbed over with Wookie-noises created by the film's sound designer, Ben Burtt, by mixing together the growls of different animals.[citation needed]

Mayhew has played Chewbacca in four Star Wars films: the original trilogy (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He also played the role in the 1978 television film Star Wars Holiday Special and in an appearance on The Muppet Show. He also recorded dialogue for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 finale episode "Wookiee Hunt".[5][6]

Mayhew also plays the role in commercials and for hospital appearances for sick children and has made numerous appearances as Chewbacca outside the Star Wars films. Mayhew as Chewbacca was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Film Awards 1997. He was additionally honoured at the release of the new PlayStation Portable where he dressed as Chewbacca and held up the new PSP slim version.

He has made other media appearances without the Chewbacca costume. He appeared on NBC's Identity, where his identity was based on the fact that he played Chewbacca and was a frequent guest in the early days of Slice of SciFi.

Mayhew will reprise his role of Chewbacca in Star Wars Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) which is scheduled to be released in December 2015.[7][8]

Other work

Outside Star Wars, Mayhew has appeared in the horror film Terror, directed by Norman J. Warren. In the English version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy, he provided the voice for Susha.

Personal life

Mayhew lives in Boyd, Texas[9] and is a business owner. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas.[10] In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he joked that he did not get a medal at this ceremony either, a reference to the Star Wars scene in which Luke and Han get medals but Chewbacca does not. Mayhew noted in an MTV interview that although Chewbacca does not get a medal in the film, he does get the last line, when he roars.[11]

Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery in 2013.[12] In January 2015, Mayhew was briefly hospitalized near his home in Texas, due to a bout of pneumonia.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b "Entertainment". Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter. 2009-05-19. p. C6. 
  2. ^ Karl Quinn (12 April 2014). "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew in Melbourne for Supernova fan convention". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  3. ^ All about Peter Mayhew
  4. ^ Mayhew, Peter. "Peter Mayhew David Prowse at Salt Lake City Comicon". YouTube. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'<span />, retrieved 2011-05-31 
  6. ^ "The Clone Wars Episode Guide: Wookiee Hunt",, retrieved April 1, 2011 
  7. ^ a b Sacks, Ethan (January 19, 2015). "‘Star Wars’ star Peter Mayhew hospitalized for pneumonia: report ". Daily News (New York).
  8. ^ a b Parker, Ryan (January 19, 2015). "'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hospitalized with pneumonia ". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Malone, Megan (February 9, 2012). "Chewbacca Making Dallas-Area Appearances" NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth". KXAS-TV.
  10. ^ "Star Wars actor who played Chewbacca to become American citizen". The Canadian Press. 2005-10-12. p. 16. 
  11. ^ "'Star Wars' actor, others pledge their allegiance", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, People Watch, Metro Section, page B2, October 18, 2005.
  12. ^ "Wookie knee repair: 'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hopes to walk again after Fort Worth surgery". The Dallas Morning News. September 11, 2013

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