Star Wars character

Chewie as shown in Star Wars
Portrayed by Peter Mayhew
Fictional profile
Species Wookiee
Gender Male
Position First Mate on Millennium Falcon
Homeworld Kashyyyk
Affiliation Galactic Republic
Rebel Alliance
New Republic

Chewbacca, also known as Chewie, is a character in the Star Wars franchise, portrayed by Peter Mayhew. In the series' narrative chronology, he appears in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. He guest starred on the season 3 finale on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.



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 Lucas' car.[citation needed] The dog, named Indiana, also inspired the name of the lead character in another one of Lucas' film franchises - Indiana Jones.[1] It is said that Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian and Ukrainian word for dog.[2]

Chewbacca, a Wookiee, became Han Solo's first mate and companion after Solo, then an Imperial Captain, refused an order to kill him while Chewbacca was a slave of the Empire. Solo was dismissed from the Imperial Navy for disobedience and became a smuggler. Chewbacca owed a life debt to Han and would serve Han Solo for the rest of his life.[3] Chewbacca was named one of the "greatest sidekicks" in film history by Entertainment Weekly.[4]

In all four screen appearances, Chewbacca was played by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height — 7'3" (2.2 m).[1] Five identical costumes were made for Mayhew to wear. In the three original films and a holiday special, the suits were made of yak hair and mohair. For Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more comfortable materials, though Mayhew's filming only lasted for a day. Only Mayhew's blue eyes could be seen in his costume, but fans easily recognize him by his distinctive gestures; his co-workers said they were able to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.[5]

Chewbacca's voice was created by the original films' sound designer, Ben Burtt, from a mix of recordings of walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers and badgers in Burtt's personal library.[5] 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.[6]



Chewbacca first appears in Episode IV: A New Hope. 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.[7] When they find that the planet has been destroyed by the Death Star, however, the two mercenaries are drawn into the Rebel Alliance.

In episodes V: The Empire Strikes Back and VI: Return of the Jedi. Chewbacca and Han Solo become important figures in the Alliance, and eventually help the Rebels defeat the Galactic Empire.[8]

In the prequel film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, set 19 years before Episode IV. Chewbacca, along with Tarfful, fights in the Clone Wars when their planet, Kashyyyk, is invaded. They also help to get Jedi Master Yoda to safety, Chewbacca using his traditional weapon, the Bowcaster.[9]

Expanded Universe

The 1978 television program The Star Wars Holiday Special introduces Chewbacca's family: Mallatobuck, Attichitcuk, and Lumpawarrump. They live together on Kashyyyk.[10] The Star Wars Holiday Special consisted of a frame story in which Han and Chewbacca must prevent Darth Vader from spoiling Life Day, and get home to be with Chewbacca's family. It aired only once.[11]

Chewbacca's family also appears in some Star Wars books, 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.

Chewbacca is one of the few fictional characters to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards. Because fans complained that he should have received a medal along with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, MTV presented the award as a medal bestowed by Carrie Fisher. Peter Mayhew had voiced concern about Chewbacca being skipped in the original medal scene as well, but noted that Chewbacca does get the last line in the film as compensation.

In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, it explains how and why he is forced to leave his home planet of Kashyyyk, narrowly escaping the first major planetary attack and enslaving. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine (Lord Sidious) enslave most of the planet's population of Wookiees to get the Death Star back on schedule. It also explains how he joins a ship of smugglers that are friendly to the Jedi.

The novel The Hutt Gambit explains that Chewbacca and Solo first meet when Solo, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Solo's commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Solo refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a "life-debt" to Solo, and the two become business partners and best friends.[12]

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.[13]

In the book Heirs of the Force, part of the Young Jedi Knights series, Chewbacca has a nephew named Lowbacca who goes to the Jedi Academy.

The 1999 novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore (the first in the New Jedi Order series) marks Chewbacca's last chronological appearance in the Star Wars universe. Chewbacca dies when he sacrifices his life to save Han's son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and one of its moons.

Lumpawaroo and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca's life debt to Solo. Han initially protests, but relents by the end of the series.

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.

In the season 3 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Chewbacca is captured by Trandoshan hunters, but is freed by Ahsoka, and agrees to help her and two younglings escape. He builds a transmitter out of parts from the damaged Trandoshan ship, but it seems unable to work. Later, he and Ahsoka attack the Trandoshan fortress, killing many in sight, before they are found and assisted by other Wookiees, led by Tarfull.


IGN has been fond of the character, choosing the character as the 9th top Star Wars character,[14] listing his relationship with Han Solo as one of their top 10 movie bromances,[15] claiming him as one of the characters they'd like to see in The Clone Wars,[16] and choosing him as one of the characters they'd like to see in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed[17] and (along with Han Solo) its sequel.[18] UGO Networks listed the character as one of the most bad-ass archers in popular culture.[19]


  1. ^ a b The Characters of Star Wars Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sansweet, Stephen J. (1998-06-30). The Star Wars Encyclopedia (1st edition ed.). Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-40227-8. 
  4. ^ Ben Schott, Schott's Miscellany Calendar 2009 (New York: Workman Publishing, 2008), March 21.
  5. ^ a b Peter Mayhew Biography, at Screenrush. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  6. ^ Star Wars Databank | Chewbacca: Behind the Scenes
  7. ^ Star Wars Episode IV
  8. ^ Star Wars Episodes V & VI
  9. ^ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  10. ^ Berman, John; Ted Gerstein (2007-12-20). "Holiday Specials Gone Bad; The 'Star Wars Holiday Special' Flop Lives On". ABC News. 
  11. ^ Star Wars Holiday Special FAQ
  12. ^ Hutt Gambit
  13. ^ Jedi Academy
  14. ^ "Top 100 Star Wars Characters". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  15. ^ Scott Collura (18 March 2009). "Top 10 Movie Bromances". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Eric Goldman (11 November 2010). "Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Characters We'd Like to See". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  17. ^ Jesse Schedeen (21 July 2008). "Players Wanted: The Force Unleashed". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  18. ^ Jesse Schedeen (10 September 2008). "Players Wanted: The Force Unleashed 2". IGN. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  19. ^ T J Dietsch (13 May 2010). "The 11 Most Bad-Ass Archers in Pop Culture". UGO Networks. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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