Not that he ever sported latex in his costume, but Chewbacca’s bandolier was certainly a fantasy cosplayer lover’s dream accessory. Peter Mayhew, the man behind the wookie of Star Wars fame, died this week at the age of 74 and we’d like to celebrate him here.
Best known playing the 200-year old wookie in Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mayhew was discovered while working as a hospital orderly. Standing seven foot three inches tall at the time, Mayhew was first cast as the Minotaur in another iconic fantasy movie-maker, Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. That movie’s producer found him from a photograph posted in a UK newspaper article about men with large feet. The next year, George Lucas cast Mr. Mayhew in what would become his iconic star turn.
Although he received no metal, he did get the last “word” in Episode IV: A New Hope, wailed for the loss of Han in Carbonite, as much as groomed his buddy back to full consciousness in the Return of the Jedi, and almost pulled Lando’s head from his neck. And there are so many more great “Chewy” moments, to be sure. With fans and friends chiming in across social media since Mayhew’s death it seems the actor was as much beloved for the gentle soul he was as for the iconic character he created.
As you know, we as much celebrate alternative fashion and latex haute couture here as we do pop cultural, cosplay and surely anything to do with the fantasy and science fiction movies and literature which we all love so much. And although saddened by Peter Mayhew’s death this week, we can all be tickled again and again by his Chewbacca anytime we wish to sit down and enjoy one of the many Star Wars movies he roared across.