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Peter Mayhew
Peter Mayhew 2015.jpg
Mayhew in June 2015
Born (1944-05-19) 19 May 1944 (age 74)
ResidenceBoyd, Texas, U.S.
OccupationActor, author
Years active1976–2015
Known forPlaying Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise
Home townBarnes, London, England
Height2.18 m (7 ft 2 in)
Angie Luker (m. 1999)

Peter Mayhew (born 19 May 1944)[1] is an English-American actor, best known for portraying Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series. He played the character in all of his live action appearances from the 1977 original to 2015's The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role.

Early life[edit]

Mayhew was born on 19 May 1944 in Barnes, Surrey, where he was also raised.[1] His height is not a product of gigantism, "I don't have the big head"[2][3] His peak height was 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m).[4]


Early work[edit]

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.[5][6]

Mayhew in departmental photo of the radiology department, King's College Hospital, London, 1972
Mayhew at the Big Apple Con, 14 November 2008, sitting in front of an image of Chewbacca

When casting his first Star Wars film, creator George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the hairy alien Chewbacca. He originally had in mind 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) bodybuilder David Prowse, but Prowse chose to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search in-which he discovered Mayhew, who was working as an orderly in the radiology department of King's College Hospital, London, and said that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.[citation needed]

Mayhew has played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films: the original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[7] He 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".[8][9]

Mayhew plays the role in commercials and 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 outside of playing Chewbacca. 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.

While Mayhew portrayed Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was not in Star Wars: The Last Jedi but was listed in the credits as 'Chewbacca Consultant'.[10] Mayhew retired from playing Chewbacca due to health issues. Joonas Suotamo shared the portrayal of Chewbacca with Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then replaced him in subsequent Star Wars films.[11][12]

Other work[edit]

Outside Star Wars, Mayhew has appeared in the 1978 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. He also appeared in Yesterday Was a Lie.[13]


Mayhew has written two books for younger audience: Growing Up Giant[14] which explains that being different is a strength instead of a weakness and anti-bullying book for children My Favorite Giant.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Mayhew lives with his wife Mary Angela ("Angie") in Boyd, Texas[16] and is a business owner. He became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas.[17][18] 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.[19]

Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery in 2013.[20] In January 2015, Mayhew was briefly hospitalised near his home in Texas, due to a bout of pneumonia.[21][22] In July 2018, Mayhew announced via Twitter that he had successfully undergone unspecified spinal surgery to improve his mobility, and is currently recovering.[23]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1977 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger Minoton Uncredited [5]
Star Wars Chewbacca [7]
1978 Terror The Mechanic
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Chewbacca [7]
1982 Return of the Ewok Video short
1983 Return of the Jedi [7]
1987 Star Tours Short, uncredited
2004 Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy Susha Voice Role [24]
2004 Comic Book: The Movie Himself
2005 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Chewbacca [7]
2008 Yesterday Was a Lie Dead Man [13]
2015 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Chewbacca Shared role with Joonas Suotamo [7]
2017 Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi N/A Chewbacca Consultant [10]
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story N/A [25]


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Donny & Marie Chewbacca Episode # 3.1
1978 Star Wars Holiday Special TV Special
1980 The Muppet Show Episode: The Stars of Star Wars
1981 Dark Towers The Tall Knight 5 episodes
1985 The Kenny Everett Television Show Various Episode #3.3
2011 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Chewbacca Episode: Wookiee Hunt, voice
Glee Episode: Extraordinary Merry Christmas


  1. ^ a b "Entertainment". Observer–Reporter. 19 May 2009. p. C6.
  2. ^ Quinn, Karl (12 April 2014). "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew in Melbourne for Supernova fan convention". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  3. ^ Vankin, Jonathan (20 January 2015). "'Star Wars' actor, Peter 'Chewbacca' Mayhew, 70, stricken with pneumonia – sends fans message from hospital". Inquisitr. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Peter Mayhew". Archived from the original on 10 May 2008.
  5. ^ a b Clark, Mark (2015). Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1-48036-018-1.
  6. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (19 May 2015). "15 Chewbacca Facts in Honour of Peter Mayhew's Birthday". Mental Floss. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Child, Ben (8 April 2014). "Original Chewbacca actor set to return in Star Wars: Episode VII". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'". The New York Times. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  9. ^ "The Clone Wars Episode Guide: Wookiee Hunt". Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Star Wars: The Last Jedi - full credits". IMDb. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  11. ^ Hawkes, Rebecca (6 January 2016). "The 'secret' Chewbacca: meet the 6'11" basketball star who shared the role with Peter Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  12. ^ Orange, B. Alan (6 January 2016). "Meet The New Chewbacca Actor in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". MovieWeb. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  13. ^ a b Chilton, Martin (4 May 2011). "Ewoks, sex dolls and comedy: what happened to the Star Wars cast". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  14. ^ Mayhew, Peter; Mayhew, Angie (19 November 2013). My Favorite Giant. One Mans Posse Production. ISBN 978-1-62098-826-8.
  15. ^ Goldman, Carrie (22 April 2011). "My Favorite Giant by Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)". ChicagoNow. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  16. ^ Malone, Megan (8 February 2012). "Chewbacca Making Dallas-Area Appearances". KXAS-TV. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Star Wars actor who played Chewbacca to become American citizen". The Canadian Press. 12 October 2005. p. 16.
  18. ^ "Chewbacca actor to become an American". Today. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ "'Star Wars' actor, others pledge their allegiance". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 18 October 2005. p. B2.
  20. ^ "Wookie knee repair: 'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hopes to walk again after Fort Worth surgery". The Dallas Morning News. 11 September 2013. Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  21. ^ Sacks, Ethan (19 January 2015). "'Star Wars' star Peter Mayhew hospitalized for pneumonia: report". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  22. ^ Parker, Ryan (19 January 2015). "'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hospitalized with pneumonia". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  23. ^ Parker, Ryan (24 July 2018). "'Star Wars': Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Undergoes Spinal Surgery". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Chichizola, Corey (15 May 2018). "The Advice Star Wars' Peter Mayhew Gave Solo's Chewbacca". CinemaBlend. Retrieved 15 September 2018.

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