Making his animation debut in Star Wars: The Clone Wars is everyone’s favourite Wookiee, Chewbacca. Han Solo’s BFF was last seen giving Yoda a huge helping hand on Kashyyyk during Revenge Of The Sith and now he makes his first appearance in the season three finale of the award-winning animated spin-off.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, supervising director, Dave Filoni (you can read our interview with him here), said, “We’ve wanted to have Chewbacca on the show from the beginning. But the technical side just wasn’t there, until we devoted extra resources into researching how to animate fur when George [Lucas] said Chewbacca had to appear this season.”
Lending a hand to visualizing the hairy one’s return is actor, Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in four of the movies (and the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special). The production team brought Peter in and used his unique physicality to reproduce Chewie’s specificities via computer generated imagery. Speaking to Sky.com the director said, “We also went into the Lucasfilm archives and studied some of the original Chewie costumes to make sure the details were carried over into the animation.”
Mayhew commented, “When I played Chewie, I was just being myself. He has a peculiar walk, because his walk is my walk. I didn’t add anything different.”
Filoni told Sky.com, “To understand Chewie, you need to understand Peter. Bringing Chewie to The Clone Wars is very special for us, and it wouldn’t be right without Peter’s involvement and blessing. Peter and Chewie are one and the same. He brings so much of himself to the character and it was important for us to capture that.”
Despite only performing Chewie physically in the Star Wars films, The Clone Wars sees another first in the form of the Wookiee’s famous growl. For the movies, Oscar-winning sound designer, Ben Burtt, used actual bear sounds but, for his animated counterpart, Mayhew will be adding vocal duties.
Talking to Sky.com the 7’3″ actor said, “I’ve had a lot of practice. After so many years of being asked to do the growl for fans, I’ve found that I’m actually quite good at it. I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the series. The animation is amazing, and they really captured the essence of Chewie. As soon as I saw it I said, ‘That’s it. He’s there. That’s Chewbacca.'”
Filoni was keen to use Peter’s sound, stating,” I wanted to find a way to include [his voice] as a thank you for helping us out with the character. Anthony Daniels still gets to voice C-3PO, we brought Daniel Logan back to play Boba Fett, and I just didn’t think it would be right to have this icon on the show without the man himself lending his voice.”
Whilst plot details are scarce at the moment, Lucasfilm has revealed that the finale will not involve Chewbacca’s home world, Kashyyyk, but will see Wookiees being hunted and enslaved by reptilian species, the Trandoshans. Nerdoids may note that bounty hunter, Bossk (who made his debut in The Empire Strikes Back), is of that species.
Peter Mayhew joins Liam Neeson in the list of the actors this season who have starred in both the big and small screen adventures. In a move replicating the recent seasons, Sky Movies Premiere has worldwide exclusivity on the finale episodes, which air on March 19th and 26th (also on HD). You can read our review here tomorrow afternoon.