Peter Mayhew Dies at 74

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort, and many deserve credit for Chewbacca. George Lucas, of course, for conceiving and writing the character. Ben Burtt for that distinctive and emotive voice. ILM costume designers. But Mayhew was the actor. And goddamn if Chewbacca doesn’t feel real. You know he’s a man in a suit but he feels like a real Wookiee. There were aliens in movies before Star Wars, but Chewbacca was the first I can think of who didn’t just look and feel like a real alien but who also felt like a full-fledged character — a character with an interesting personality and real relationships with the humans around him. More than anything else, it was Chewbacca’s realness as a character — along with C-3PO and R2-D2 — that made Star Wars so immersive. He wasn’t a gimmick or a prop. He was Chewie.

And he should have gotten a goddamn medal.

Thursday, 2 May 2019