Page 3 Profile: Peter Mayhew, actor

 

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The Independent Online

Er, am I flashing back to the 70s?

No, believe it or not. It’s 2014 and Star Wars fans across the galaxies are rejoicing at reports that, after his hiatus of nearly a decade, the actor Peter Mayhew will reprise his role of the Wookie, Chewbacca, in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Oh, this is the tall guy right?

Yes. The 69-year-old actor, who towers above his co-stars at 7ft 3in, suffers from gigantism, a condition characterised by excessive height.

How did he get his big break?

Mayhew was “discovered” in 1976 when he was photographed in a newspaper alongside an article about men with large feet. The producers of the 1977 film Sinbad the Tiger cast him as a minotaur. Star Wars creator George Lucas then approached him about the role of Chewbacca, reportedly telling him all he had to do was stand up.

Is that all there was to it?

No – Mayhew threw himself into the part with gusto. Shortly before filming began, he visited a zoo to study bears, gorillas and other animals and learned to mimic their gait. He fell ill during the filming of Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, prompting director Irvin Kershner to cast another actor. However, all the footage with the double was scrapped and reshot after Mayhew recovered because the movements did not match his.

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