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RIP Peter Mayhew: here are 4 things you should know about Han Solo's BFF Chewbacca

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Today we're waking up to the sad news that original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has passed away at the age of 74. So we're celebrating with a look back at a Star Wars icon.

As we know from the Star Wars movies, maverick space pilot Han Solo has a very large, very hairy BFF named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo having taken over from Mayhew in the recent movies). He growls, he's a pilot and he can pull your arms right out of their sockets. But really, what else do we know about this mysterious walking, talking throw rug?

Chewie has been a part of our cinematic lives for decades, ever since 1977's A New Hope in fact. So we thought it was time to take a deeper look at the life of this uber-famous sidekick, in honour of Mayhew's memory.


1. He comes from a planet of Wookiees

Chewie was born on the distant planet of Kashyyyk, a peaceful, tree-covered planet in the southwestern quadrant of the Star Wars galaxy. It's glimpsed briefly in 2005's Revenge of the Sith being invaded by the forces of the Galactic Empire. Inhabited by Wookiees, the iconic growl language is called Shyriiwook and is used by the entire race.


2. He's an OAP

Chewbacca has appeared in all three of the Star Wars trilogies (the originals, the prequels and the most recent series). Can't recall his appearance in the prequel series? Well his cameo role fighting alongside Yoda in the aforementioned Revenge of the Sith certainly came as a pleasant surprise to many.

Given about 50 years have elapsed between the prequels and 2015's The Force Awakens, you could say Chewie is doing pretty well, with not a single grey hair or bald spot in sight. But he's actually much, much older than you may have guessed.

Given Wookiees age far slower than humans, Chewbacca is in fact several hundreds of years old, and had even celebrated his 200th birthday around the time of A New Hope. Chewie was still looking rather youthful in 2017's The Last Jedi, even taking the time to kick back and chow down on a hapless Porg.


3. He's got the skills to pay the bills

With such old age comes experience, and during his time witnessing the rise and fall of entire empires, Chewie has learnt a lot. Though dismissed as nothing more than a 'walking carpet' by the late Carrie Fisher's Leia, Chewbacca is not only an expert pilot aboard the Millennium Falcon but also the main reason it still flies.

His skills as a mechanic are demonstrated throughout the Star Wars series (even at one point putting C3PO back together in The Empire Strikes Back). Without him Han certainly would've had to cough up for another ship by now. In the season three finale of TV series The Clone Wars (see below) Chewbacca leads a full-blown assault on a Trandoshan fortress alongside Jedi Ahsoka Tano.


4. He's got a family

It may surprise you to learn that Chewbacca is not the lone wolf you might expect. No, ol' Chewie has both a wife and son named Malla and Lumpawaroo respectively (first introduced in the notoriously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which you can inflict on yourselves below). As per the wider Star Wars canon, Chewbacca's offspring was tragically enslaved by the Galactic Empire along with many others of his kind and forced to toil in slave labour camps.

Tweet us your favourite Peter Mayhew Chewbacca moments @Cineworld. And don't forget the iconic Wookiee returns on 19th December in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.