Actor Peter Mayhew died on April 30, 2019. He was 74 years old. You might not recognize that name. While Mayhew’s face did appear on screen in a few films, he is best known for helping create the character of Chewbacca for the Star Wars films.
Peter Mayhew was a tall man – 7 foot 3 inches at his tallest. He brought Chewbacca to life with his mannerisms, his physicality, and his presence. Through Mayhew’s impressive performance, we always knew what Chewie was thinking and saying even though we couldn’t understand the language he used. He took what could have been a mostly forgettable creature and turned Chewie into a fan favorite. Seriously, ask any Star Wars fan how they feel about Chewbacca and you won’t hear a negative word.
So, in honor of the life and work of Peter Mayhew, we want to spotlight some of our favorite Chewbacca moments from the Star Wars films. We hope you enjoy reading our favorites and we would love to read about some of yours in the comment section below.
Chewbacca Reunites With a Recently Decarbonized Solo
by Benjamin Plunkett
The entire trilogy is very clear that Chewbecca would have done anything for Han Solo. So it comes as no surprise at all when at the end of Empire Strikes Back he joins Lando on a dedicated mission to rescue Han in his carbonated imprisonment. I don’t think Return of the Jedi gives the exact details of what went down between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but the beginning of Return of the Jedi features bounty hunter-costumed Leia “selling” Chewbecca to Jabba the Hut, Solo’s captor. (“At last we have the mighty Chewbecca”). Chewbecca self-sacrificially allows this daring stunt solely so Leia could have the chance to free Solo in the dead of night. But after the plan is foiled at the last minute, Solo is tossed into prison with Chewbecca. The reunion is awesome.
I kind of wonder if Chewbecca knew of or expected a plan to help him escape or if his sole concern was sacrificing his own freedom to help his best friend. Whatever the case, he took the risk because Han was that important to him. While this might not be my very favorite Chewbecca moment (ROTJ is full of my favorite Chewbecca moments), it is at least equal to the best of them.
“Let the Wookie Win.”
by D.A. Speer
My favorite Chewie moment is the iconic “let the Wookie win” scene in A New Hope. R2D2 and Chewie are facing off in a game of Dejarik, and C-3PO tells R2 to be careful. R2 makes a good move and Chewie gets upset. Han says “Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.” C-3PO replies “But sir. Nobody worries about upsetting a droid.” Then Han says, “That’s cause a droid don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.” Chewie leans back and puts his arms behind his head with a smirk on his face. That’s just stellar acting, and I laugh every single time. 3PO’s advice to R2, “new strategy…let the Wookie win,” is the icing on the cake.
Chewbacca’s Defining Character Trait
by Phill Lytle
I don’t have one specific scene that stands out above the rest. I have a character trait. Chewbacca was fiercely loyal. You see it repeatedly throughout the films. One of my favorite examples comes on Cloud City (Bespin) when Chewbacca finds out that C-3PO is being torn apart and destroyed. He yells, rages, fights, and somehow finds all the parts that have already been ripped off, and protectively shields them from any more damage. He then puts C-3PO back together in hilarious fashion, but he does it lovingly.
My other example happens in the final scene between Chewie and Han. In The Force Awakens, Han confronts his long-lost son, Kylo Ren (AKA: Ben Solo) who is on his way to fully embracing the Dark Side. Chewbacca watches it all happen from a distance. When Kylo strikes down Chewie’s oldest friend and companion, he loses it. He shoots everything in sight while releasing a heartbroken cry only he could make. It broke my heart to see Chewie hurt like that. But, it also solidified in my mind that it would be impossible to find a better friend than Chewbacca.
Chewie Saves the Day!
by Gowdy Cannon
My favorite Chewbacca scene is in Return of the Jedi on Endor when an AT-ST (yes I had to look that up) comes towards Han and he is sure he is caught and the top flings open and out pop Chewie! Things are so tense as the three climactic battles—Lando and his crew in the air, Han and his crew on the ground and Luke vs. The Emperor and Vader—rage on. And then this happens and for a few seconds, all the intensity is lost in laughter. That one moment in time represents everything I have loved about that character for nearly 40 years now…comedy and heroism. He is a fantastic combination of both and yet he is so much more than comedic relief or even just a sidekick. Something special is lost without his presence.
The Goodly Wookie and His Stomach
by Nathan Patton
I’ve always felt that Chewie and I have a lot in common. We’re scruffy but lovable. Intensely loyal and brave. Intelligent. Possessing superhuman strength. Speak mostly in grunts and growls… and have a tendency, despite the aforementioned superior intellect, to do dumb things when we’re hungry.
This is why I’m quite fond of the scene in Episode VI on the forest moon of Endor when Chewie and the rest of the gang are searching for Leia. The natives so graciously left a choice cut of meat in their path, and it would’ve been quite rude to ignore it. They needed to keep up their strength to continue the search anyway.
Of course, it was a trap, quite obvious in retrospect, but that’s what happens when you think with your stomach rather than your brain as even the best of us are wont to do on occasion.
We will miss you, Peter Mayhew.
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