Do Wookies Go Gray? Peter Mayhew Returning as Chewbacca In ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

By  · Published on April 7th, 2014

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Just imagine any of the original Star Wars ensemble not making at least a cameo appearance in Star Wars: Episode VII. There’d at least have to be an explanation for why, maybe for what happened to that character. Like if Harrison Ford was on board and reprised his role as Han Solo but there was no Chewbacca, we’d want to know how the Wookie died. And he would have had to have died, because we wouldn’t accept that he and Han went separate ways, for any reason given. After all, Chewie has a sworn debt to protect Han for the rest of his life.

Of course, there’d never be such a case with Chewbacca, anyway, because technically anyone (with a height of 7’3") could play the part underneath the hairy costume. Fortunately, though, that also isn’t necessary because, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Mayhew is returning to play the big furry oaf for the fifth time (excluding the Holiday Special and other non-movie appearances), and thanks to recent surgeries to help the actor with his physical health issues (see details via the upcoming Kickstarter-funded documentary Standing in the Stars), the Wookie won’t be needing either a wheelchair or cane.

Which is good, because according to various Star Wars texts, Chewbacca would still be in the prime of his life. He was only around 200 years old when we first meet him in A New Hope and so he’d be about 234 in Episode VII. Wookies don’t even reach middle age until their 300s. So, no, Chewie wouldn’t appear to be elderly, and that probably goes for his hair color, too – assuming Wookies go gray in old age (isn’t there a gray-haired Wookie grandpa in the Holiday Special?). Then again, also in the books, specifically one titled “Vector Prime,” Chewie died a little over 20 years following the events in Return of the Jedi (with blessing from George Lucas). Since the new movie is set 30 years since those events, the character shouldn’t be in Episode VII at all, unless it’s in a flashback.

However, Disney’s plan with the sequel trilogy is to ignore the canon of the Expanded Universe, including books and games and everything else that has so far been known to take place since the first three movies. It’s like we’re getting a whole separate timeline, meaning this is whole different (yet also it’s the original) universe we’ll be seeing in Episode VII, one in which the Wookie didn’t die on Sernpidal. Now that we know this can happen, there’s absolutely no reason for Lando not to be back, too. It would be a big deal for Billy Dee Williams following his sad loss on Dancing With the Stars.

In celebration of this news, a Chewbacca growl supercut, followed by the Chewbacca song by Supernova from the Clerks soundtrack.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.