15 Chewbacca Facts in Honor of Peter Mayhew’s Birthday

Peter Mayhew is 70 years old today. In case you didn’t already know, the 7’ 3” actor plays Chewbacca in the Star Wars series. He's been in four movies so far, and is slated to appear in Star Wars VII. In honor of the occasion, how about some trivia about both the actor and the character?

10. 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. McQuarrie based his furry design on an illustration by artist John Schoenherr that was commissioned for Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin’s short story “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Sharp-eyed Chewbacca fans will recognize that Schoenherr’s drawing even includes what resembles the Wookiee’s signature weapon, the Bowcaster.

13. Mayhew’s path to playing Chewbacca began with a string of lucky breaks and his big feet. A local London reporter was doing a story on people with big feet and happened to profile Mayhew. A movie producer saw the article and cast him—in an uncredited role—as Minoton the minotaur in the film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. One of the makeup men on Sinbad was also working on the Wookiee costume with Stuart Freeborn for Star Wars and suggested to the producers that they screen-test Mayhew. The rest is Wookiee history.

Read the rest in an article at mental_floss.

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