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Mayhew was not well physically during this shoot and had lost a Peter Mayhew may the force be with you always shirt, doing scenes that required physical action. Suotamo played Chewbacca in The Last Jedi, Mayhew being completely unable at this point to don the costume. That is so hard to assess. As far as I know, he didn’t do the roars and growls and whines and gurgles. He was just the guy in the suit. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Peter Mayhew and am as bummed at his death as I was with Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker.
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I’m trying not to cry as I write this Peter Mayhew may the force be with you always shirt. But as with R2D2, the right sized person can wear the suit, so Chewy lives on, which makes me quite happy. And the new guy, Joonas Suotamo, seems to be well coached in how to be Mayhew’s version of Chewy. Mayhew wasn’t athletic. Indeed, he battled crippling pain for much of his life. That made his Chewy less threatening, less imposing. For 9 year old me in 1977, that made him the perfect Chewbacca. I can’t imagine how frightening he would have been if someone athletic and really coordinated, like Ed “Too Tall” Jones, had played Chewy. With Mayhew, there was a gentleness, a sense that Chewy was at heart just a fuzzy, loyal friend.