Chewie was one of the instantly notable scripts on the 2011 Black List of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays, because it’s about Star Wars. The spec script by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux is described as “satirical behind the scenes look at the making of Star Wars through the eyes of Peter Mayhew,” the 7’3″ actor who maintained his job as a hospital worker while he played Chewbacca.
Mayhew recently tweeted, “Yes, we’re working with Kyle Newman and the team on CHEWIE, The Movie and are hopeful it can move forward.” Heat Vision followed up with a report Newman, the director of the Star Wars love letter Fanboys, acquired Mayhew’s life rights to further develop the script. There is no specific mention of Newman directing, but his involvement should help move the project along regardless. George Lucas gave an early approval to Fanboys, enough to lend the movie the official Star Wars sound effects. Chewie has a terribly appealing premise, but one that is probably dependent on Lucasfilm’s involvement for proper execution. The project can only benefit from having pre-approved folks like Newman and Mayhew in its corner. Hit the jump for more on Mayhew.
Mayhew features the story of how he was cast on his official site:
Peter Mayhew, an English hospital worker who inadvertently found himself catapulted into films, was the towering gentle giant responsible for bringing Chewbacca to life. Mayhew, who stands 7’3″, was born in Barnes, England. The son of a policeman, he spent a short time in the field of engineering before discovering that he felt more fulfilled by hospital service. In the mid-1970s, he was working as a hospital orderly at London’s King’s College Hospital when he was featured in a newspaper article about men with large feet. By chance, his photograph was noticed by the producers of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), starring Patrick Wayne and Jane Seymour. Sinbad’s producers subsequently cast Mayhew in the role of the Minotaur
When writer/director George Lucas began searching for a tall actor who could accurately portray Chewbacca, he initially turned to David Prowse. The bodybuilder opted for the part of the sinister Darth Vader, leaving Lucas free to seek out Mayhew for the role of the Wookiee.
The decision to cast Mayhew as Chewbacca proved wise. The giant actor threw himself into the role with great determination. Shortly before filming began on Star Wars, Mayhew visited a zoo where he studied the movement of bears, monkeys, gorillas and other animals with traits reminiscent of a Wookiee. Once inside the costume, Mayhew created one of the trilogy’s most memorable and popular characters. Although Chewie’s vocalizations were later dubbed into the film in post-production, to cue his fellow actors Mayhew simulated the character’s dialogue from within the mask. On set, he was known to growl, grunt and shriek.
It’s a very cool story—one that I would like to see dramatized. One potential difficulty: it will be tough to find a 7-footer that will fit in the Wookie suit and can carry a film when he steps out of it.