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Chewbacca the Wookiee

Star Wars Character Profile

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Chewbacca

Chewbacca during the Battle of Endor in 'Return of the Jedi.'

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Chewbacca the Wookiee was a tall, furry alien from the planet Kashyyyk. Known as "Chewie" to his friends, Chewbacca was a brave warrior and skilled pilot during the Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War, as well as fiercely loyal to the Solo family.

Biography

Wookiees are long-lived creatures; Chewbacca was born nearly 200 years before the Star Wars films. In his youth, Chewie was adventurous, exploring the dangerous depths of the forests on Kashyyyk.

As an adult, Chewbacca fought in the Clone Wars under Yoda. When the Clone Troopers carried out Order 66, Chewbacca helped protect Yoda and lead him to safety. Yoda was one of the few Jedi to survive the slaughter, but he could not defeat Palpatine and prevent him from establishing his evil Galactic Empire.

The Empire was not kind to non-Humans; Wookiees, because of their strength, were soon enslaved as laborers. When Chewie helped some other Wookiee slaves escape, the Imperial officer in charge ordered a young Imperial Lieutenant, Han Solo, to kill him. Solo refused and was court-martialed as a result.

His military career behind him, Han Solo returned to his former life of crime as a smuggler. Chewbacca owed him a life-debt, and so joined him as his partner and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie would later extend his life-debt to Han's wife, Leia, and their children. Flying around the galaxy with Han left Chewbacca little time for his own family back on Kashyyk, however: his wife Mallatobuck and his son Lumpawarrump.

Han Solo and Chewbacca joined the Rebellion almost by accident. After accepting the simple job of flying Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker to Alderaan, they discovered an Imperial Death Star instead, and were thrown into a crazy plan to rescue Princess Leia. Han Solo pled his loyalty to the Rebellion, later becoming a general, and Chewbacca loyally followed him to victory.

During the Yuuzhan Vong attack on Sernpidal, Chewie helped Han's son Anakin evacuate the residents to safety. Although he was able to get Anakin to the Millennium Falcon in time, Chewie was killed when Sernpidal's moon collided with the planet. To commemorate his bravery, the other Wookiees constructed a tree memorial on Kashyyyk.

Behind the Scenes

Chewbacca was portrayed onscreen by the seven-foot-three actor Peter Mayhew. Because Mayhew wasn't a professional actor, Equity, the British actors' union, had to grant him a special dispensation to play Chewbacca in Episode IV: A New Hope. Mayhew returned to the role of Chewbacca after 28 years in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which premiered on his birthday.

Stuart Freeborn designed the costume for Chewbacca, made from mohair and yak hair. Sound Designer Ben Burtt combined the sounds of various animals -- including walruses, badgers, and a black bear named Tarik -- to create Chewbacca's signature Wookiee roar.

Chewbacca's death in Vector Prime was a controversial moment in the Expanded Universe. It was not the first character death in the EU, but it was the first death of such a major character from the movies and fan favorite as Chewbacca. The other Star Wars characters reflect on their memories of Chewbacca the Wookiee in the comic Star Wars: Chewbacca.

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