Some years ago, I had a brief encounter with Peter Mayhew at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. While waiting for a table at a restaurant near the convention, I noticed someone very, very tall in front of me but didn’t recognize who it was. As he walked away, I saw a distinctive gait and muttered, “Ha! That guy walks just like Chewbacca.” Mayhew turned and cracked a friendly smile, and I was rather embarrassed when I realized it really was him.
It’d be easy to suggest that he was just a big guy dressed as a shag carpet, but I’m quite certain that had someone other than Peter Mayhew been cast, Chewie wouldn’t not have been as beloved and iconic a character. Maybe it was the way he cocked his head or his soulful blue eyes, but Mayhew did more than just wear a costume, he brought a legend to life.
Artwork by Ron Frenz and Tom Palmer, from Marvel Comics’ Star Wars issue 72, 1983.