Uuuuuuur ahhhhrrrr wwahwhwa aaahhhhrr aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh!
1. Chewbacca didn't feature in George Lucas' original draft of Star Wars. At that time Han was going to be a green-skinned
alien with gills. Lucas changed him to a human character so there would
be more of a relationship between Han, Luke and Leia. This change caused
the bearded one to create a non-human sidekick character, someone who would be Han's best friend.
2. When it came to this sidekick, George Lucas looked no further than his own best friend - his big, hairy Alaskan malamute, Indiana. According to Lucas, the dog would sit in the passenger seat of his car like a copilot, and passers by would confuse the dog for an actual person. (Lucas' dog was also the inspiration behind the name for one of his other creations, Indiana Jones.)
3. The name Chewbacca was derived from the Russian word Sobaka (собака), meaning dog.
4. The word 'Wookiee' comes from one of Lucas' earlier movies, THX 1138.
During one scene a voice is heard on a police radio saying "I ran over a
Wookiee back there on the expressway". This was an ad-libbed line by
voice over artist Terry McGovern.
5. Even before an actor was cast in the role, George Lucas tasked the now-legendary sound designer Ben Burtt to begin work on Chewbacca’s voice, in fact this was the first sound effect created for Star Wars! Burtt principally used the sound of a black bear named Tarik from Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California, which he mixed with the vocalisations of a walrus, lion, and badger to create Chewie's distinct sound.
6. David Prowse was Lucas' original choice to play Chewbacca, but after being offered the role he turned it down. The bodybuilder had his sights set on Darth Vader because he wanted to play a villain.
7. Peter Mayhew turned up to audition for the part, and won the role by just standing up! He revealed that he was sitting on a sofa in the waiting room when George Lucas arrived, and so he stood up to greet him. After seeing all 7feet 3inches of Mayhew, Lucas remarked, "I think we've found him."
8. The original costume for Chewbacca was designed by legendary makeup supervisor Stuart Freeborn. Lucas had given him a brief that he wanted the character to be a combination of a monkey, a dog, and a cat. The costume itself was made from a mixture of real yak and rabbit hair knitted into a base of mohair.
9. According to Freeborn, the biggest problem with the costume during production of the original trilogy was with Mayhew’s eyes. The actor’s body heat in the mask caused his face to detach from the costume's eyes and made them look separate from the mask. So when Mayhew reprised the role for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the Wookiee suit had an overhaul to include a specially made water-cooling system. It also meant that Mayhew could now wear the suit for long periods of time and not get overheated.
10. Not everyone was happy with Chewbacca's look. 20th Century Fox wanted to put clothes on Chewbacca, because they were concerned that he was essentially naked. Executives from the company kept sending over notes and concept designs with Chewbacca wearing shorts and baggy pants. But George Lucas insisted on keeping Chewie au naturel.
Follow Geek Dave on Twitter