(Write-up by Joe Prescott, Dork Side of the Force Staff Writer)
“We named the dog Indiana”. So says Henry Jones Sr. in Spielberg’s classic “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, scripted by George Lucas who had used the same name for his Alaskan Malamute. But this dog would inspire more than just a plot point for Dr. Jones, as the dog’s large build and long-haired appearance gave Lucas the idea of a sidekick for our favourite smuggler. Man’s best friend became Han’s best friend, co-pilot and mechanic, always by his side. Affectionately named Chewie by Han, he has become one of the Sagas most enduring and recognisable characters and a solid favourite across the ages.
A Wookiee originating from the arboreal planet of Kashyyyk, Chewbacca fought against Imperial oppression for a number of years before coming into contact with Han Solo, a Lieutenant in the Imperial Forces at the time, who rescued him from Imperial custody and was relieved of duty as a consequence. Chewie owed Han a life debt and became his sidekick from therein, helping with smuggling, fighting and whatever other unlawful shenanigans Han was up to. The two became synonymous, rarely apart and the cause of aggravation for Imperial, gangster and bounty hunters alike. Chewie’s fierce loyalty and combat skills were feared by his enemies and if someone wanted to get to Han they knew they’d have to go through Chewie first. He became a part of the Rebel Alliance after he spoke to Obi Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley Cantina and helped the Rebellion topple the Empire. EU stories took a dark turn when he was one of the first movie characters to die in a later story, a move that caused a massive backlash by the fans. But he still stands today as a formidable sidekick with a distinctive growl and a big soft side.
Chewie was a huge hit when he first appeared as lots of people could relate to having pets and furry companions when they were growing up. Initially intended to be played by Dave “Darth Vader” Prowse, 7’3″ British Actor Peter Mayhew ended up portraying the fuzzball on screen and mimicked the movements of large animals at the zoo for Chewie’s distinctive gait, while his unique resonant vocals were created by Sound Designer Ben using several animal noises mixed together, including walruses, bears and lions. Loyalty and friendship are the key components to this character and there’s no denying that the world still loves this walking carpet!
Next: The Force was strong with him