Mayhew was an English hospital worker that inadvertently found himself catapulted into the film industry. Born the son of a London Bobby in Barnes, England and at the age of 8 diagnosed with gigantism. He spent a short time in the field of engineering before discovering he felt more fulfilled by hospital service. While working as an orderly at London’s King’s College Hospital a reporter took a photo of him which was published in a local paper that would change his life.
That photo, demonstrated Peter’s towering 7’4” figure and giant frame. By mere chance the producers of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger saw this which lead to Peter being cast as the Minoton and working with Ray Harryhausen, Patrick White and Jane Seymour on his first film. Once Peter finished filming he returned to his job at the hospital only to be called again about a year later to audition with a gentleman by the name of George Lucas about his project, Star Wars. George walked into the room, Peter stood up to shake his hand like a proper Englishmen and the rest is history.
Peter was immediately cast as Chewbacca, the loyal sidekick and co-pilot of scoundrel and pilot of the Millineum Falcon, Han Solo. Once cast as Chewie, Peter made several visits to his local zoo where he studied the movements and mannerisms of bears, monkeys & gorillas which lead to him bringing one of most memorable characters of the Star Wars franchise to life.
He truly embodied Chewbacca and proved himself irreplaceable which lead to Peter being asked to bring the mighty wookiee back to life for; The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Muppet Show (1980) & Return of the Jedi (1983).
When the movies were finished, Peter moved to Yorkshire in Northern England where he lived quietly for 14 years. As the Star Wars Special Edition’s were being released in 1997, Peter found himself in high demand on the SciFi Convention circuit and began making personal appearances around the world. Later that year, he donned the Wookiee suit yet again for the first time since rapping Jedi to receive the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to him by the lovely, Carrie Fisher. It was about time she gave Peter his medal after shafting him at the end of A New Hope, just sayin…
In 1999, he married the love of his life, Angie. Peter then packed his bags, made the jump across the pond and moved to Texas. After living in the US for six years, in 2005 he became an America citizen. Later that year Peter received a phone call from Rick McCallum asking if he could be in Australia in 48 hours to reprise his role as Chewbacca in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith introducing Chewie’s home planet of Kashyyyk and the world of Wookiees. George Lucas actually set aside time to personally direct Peter’s scenes himself. Wearing his new and improved Chewbacca suit, Peter helped to promote the release of Revenge of the Sith at promotional events and in several commercials. The last time Peter wore the suit was at George Lucas’s AFI Lifetime Achievement Award dinner.
In 2008, Peter made a cameo appearance in the sci-fi black and white award winning Film Noir, Yesterday Was A Lie.
In 2011, Lucasfilm flew Peter and Angie out to Skywalker Ranch to consult with the animators and artists as they introduced Chewie into the Clone Wars series. Peter spent several hours with them so they could get to know him and his mannerisms so they could accurately create the animated version of Chewie. After 30 years Peter’s relationship with his beloved character came full circle by having him voice Chewbacca in Star Wars The Clone Wars.
In January of 2012, Peter received approval for his 501(c)(3) The Peter Mayhew Foundation. Since then Peter has been leading the way in showing the world how Geeks can make a difference, The Wookiee Way. In addition to running his new foundation, he spends much of his time on the road at fan events around the world meeting and greeting them at numerous conventions and events, sometimes as many as 20 a year. He enjoys the friendships that the Star Wars universe has brought to his life by attending such events including the most cherished one with his wife Angie. Over the summer Peter worked with Christian Slater & Megan Mullally on the FOX series “breaking_in”. Sadly the series was canceled before Peter’s episode aired, but who knows if you show up at an event with Peter you might get to see a top secret copy.
Currently Peter is working on new ways to provide a better life for those in need through his Foundation. Promoting his two new children’s books Growing Up Giant and My Favorite Giant. He is set to work with Digger T. Mesch and the world’s most deadly assassin on the new hit web series Agent-88 and is in negotiations for a reality series. Of course he and the whole world are awaiting a phone call in hopes of working with J.J. Abrams and once again reprising his role as Chewbacca in perhaps the most highly anticipated film of all time Star Wars Episode VII.
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