Original Chewbacca actor plans comeback for Star Wars Episode VII

The British actor who starred as Chewbacca, Han Solo's furry sidekick, in the original Star Wars films, has said he hopes to reprise the role in JJ Abrams' forthcoming Episode VII.

Peter Mayhew's announcement came after a casting call from the film's studio, Disney, and Abrams' production company for a seven-foot tall actor sparked suggestions that wookiees would play a part in the new film. Mayhew, who stood 2.13m (7ft 3 in) tall in his youth, says he is the man for the job. "I intend to pursue the role of Chewbacca for Episode VII," he told Bleedingcool.com, via a message from film-maker W Ryan Ziegler, who is making a documentary about the actor.

Mayhew, 69, has played Chewbacca in four Star Wars films – the original trilogy that ran between 1977 and 1983, and 2005 prequel Revenge of the Sith. It is not known whether Abrams has lined up a return for Chewbacca, but there have been persistent reports that Harrison Ford's Solo will make an appearance in the new film.

While Mayhew once famously revealed he only had to stand up to win the role, he is said to have developed a signature posture as Chewbacca (from observing large animals in captivity) that made his performances stand out. According to Star Wars legend, the actor was replaced temporarily by another tall man during filming of 1983's Return of the Jedi after falling ill. The stand-in was unable to emulate Mayhew's style and the scenes subsequently had to be reshot.

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