'Star Wars: The Clone Wars': Check out Chewbacca -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

ChewbaccaImage Credit: LucasfilmGet ready to don your “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee!” T-shirt, because everybody’s favorite walking carpet is back! Chewbacca, Han Solo’s endlessly devoted sidekick and Millennium Falcon co-pilot from the original Star Wars trilogy, is making his animation debut in the season finale of Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars on April 1 (read our recaps here). Fans have speculated since the series’ inception that Chewbacca, already 200 years old by the time of the original Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, might make an appearance. But the difficulty of animating hair — and, let’s face it, that’s pretty much all Chewie is — proved insurmountable until recently.

“We’ve wanted to have Chewbacca on the show from the beginning,” says supervising director Dave Filoni. “But the technical side just wasn’t there, until we devoted extra resources into researching how to animate fur when George said Chewbacca had to appear this season.” As part of that research, Filoni and the animation team brought in original Chewbacca actor, Peter Mayhew, to advise how to capture the Wookiee’s movements and gait, although they did not use motion capture or rotoscope techniques. “When I played Chewie, I was just being myself,” the 7-foot-3 actor adds. “He has a peculiar walk, because his walk is my walk. I didn’t add anything different.” Filoni adds, “You can’t have Chewbacca without Peter being involved. His movements and his mannerisms make that character.”

Lucasfilm is as mum as a carbon-frozen Han Solo about plot details regarding “Wookiee Hunt,” but they will tell me this: It won’t take place on the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, and it will feature Trandoshans, the reptilian species that helped the Empire enslave the Wookiees, best known for the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter Bossk.

Mayhew enjoys the peculiar distinction of playing an iconic character… without ever actually having been seen onscreen himself. “It’s the best of both worlds,” he says. “I can be famous when I want to be, but cherish my anonymity the rest of the time.” An accidental celebrity, he was a hospital orderly when a British newspaper article featuring men with large feet, including him, brought him to the attention of the producers of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He ended up playing a minotaur in that film, released in 1977.

Mayhew only landed the part of Chewbacca in Star Wars when David Prowse, who was considered for the role, opted to play Darth Vader instead. Still, he never voiced Chewie’s famous roar. Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt mixed it together from bear growls and other animal sounds. But for The Clone Wars, Mayhew will be lending his vocals to the character. “I’ve had a lot of practice,” he says, having the opportunity to perfect it at the 20-25 fan conventions he attends each year. “I wanted to find a way to include [his voice] as a thank you for helping us out with the character,” Filoni says. “Anthony Daniels still gets to voice C-3PO, we brought Daniel Logan back to play Boba Fett, and I just didn’t think it would be right to have this icon on the show without the man himself lending his voice.”

Why is Chewbacca still so popular? “Because he’s like a Teddy bear,” Mayhew muses. “You want to hug him. But he’s also always got your back.”

Check out our exclusive footage of Mayhew, Filoni, and the animation team talking about bringing Chewbacca to animated life, plus a clip of Chewie’s grand entrance. And remember, folks. Unless you want an arm pulled out of its socket, let the Wookiee win.

Read more:
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ recap: Tarkin’s Foul Stench

Comments (32 total) Add your comment
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  • harry

    awesome!!!

    • Matt1

      Yeah, Chewie is and always has been… THE MAN.

  • Ryan

    I met Mayhew at Comic Con last year. Amazing, gracious and grateful man. He’d spend as long as you want talking to you and he and his wife were thrilled to hear that when I first saw Ep III the audience cheered upon his appearance

  • Brendan

    This has to be an april fool’s day joke, as the episode airs on April 1st. I kinda hope its not…but I kinda feel like it will be. We’re gonna wait all episode for Chewie to appear, the ratings will be huge, and then he wont be in it. They could have done a fake promo to try to get more people to watch the show.

    • chewbacca

      dont worry chewie will be in it i carnt see them going through the expense of making the footage allready seen along with flying peter meyhew and his wife to the archives and showing them the footage the greatest wookie in the galaxy far far away will be there

  • Jeremy

    All-right! He may not have gotten a medal at the end of Episode IV (Hey Lucas how about a re-edited version where he does get one!), but there are few characters more recognizable in the “Star Wars” universe than Chewie!

  • Trenton

    I wonder if they would ever consider doing a whole season long story. I’ve loved the 3 episode arcs, but it seems like they could just do one whole story. It would be around 5 hours of awesomeness imo.

  • Kevin

    One fictional I would want in my corner. The other is of course, R2-D2.

  • DavidJ

    Awesome news, and love that they found a way to include Mayhew.
    Also glad that Chewie looks more like his original OT self than that weird version we saw in ROTS.

  • Trenton

    That would take a lot of shampoo

  • O.Handwasher

    It’s “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.” I think we can agree that Empire is worth quoting and worth quoting correctly.

  • Billie

    I’m ridiculously excited. I love Chewie.

  • Karen

    i want thrawn.

  • RyannotSeacrest

    The whole series looks like a bunch of clay puppets, so why worry about the hair? Boy, “Star Wars” just continues to strip mine its heritage, doesn’t it? Does anyone actually WATCH this show? I didn’t even know it was still on until I saw this posting.

    • Grottobot

      Kind sir, your acerbic comment really struck home to the millions of 10 year olds who love this show and they will promptly stop upon realizing it does not meet your sophisticated approval.

  • JPX

    Did they really need Peter Mayhew to consult on this? He’s not in it and he doesn’t make any of the Wookie sounds. He’s kind of feeble these days (what’s the deal with the cane?).

    • Glenn C Reimer

      Hi JPX,
      I hope when you’re 66 years old, you’re not referred to as feeble by a random stranger online. Your comment is offensive on a variety of levels.
      As to the consulting, I think it’s called respect, something lacking in your post.

  • RAMONA WARD

    I WANT TO KNOW WHAT PETER MATTHEW LOOKS LIKE WITHOUT HIS CHEWBACCA OUTFIT ON.

    • Matt1

      Watch the video dumbass!

  • RAMONA WARD

    I MEANT PETER MAYHEW LOOKS LIKE WITHOUT HIS CHEWBACCA OUTFIT ON. DO YOU HAVE A PICTURE OF HIM?

    • Grottobot

      Is there a way to up the size of the font of your question? I appreciate the all caps, because it does make it easier to read from across the room, but this room is exceedingly wide and I need all the help I can get.

      Thanking you in advance.

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