Why Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Needed Protection While Filming Endor Scenes

It's no secret that George Lucas took inspiration from a particular animal for the design of every "Star Wars" fans' favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca. No, it wasn't the Sasquatch. But that doesn't mean there isn't a missing link between the Millennium Falcon co-pilot and the ape-like creatures rumored to live in isolation throughout the forests of North America. Enter Haden Blackman, writer and "The Force Unleashed" project leader, who wrote a short comic in 2004 that cleverly intertwined the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" universes.

Titled "Into The Great Unknown," the comic sees the Millennium Falcon crashing down on Earth, stranding Chewbacca on our planet when Solo is tragically killed by the indigenous people living there. Hundreds of years later, however, a certain professor of archeology arrives on the scene to examine the ruins of the Falcon and bones of Solo. There's no sign of Chewie though, and one can only imagine the sad Wookiee roaming the forests dodging conspiracy theorists and hunters. It's ultimately a rather depressing origin story for Bigfoot. But unlike his fictional counterpart, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew had plenty of company during the filming of "Return of the Jedi" that took place in the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest. A whole group of people, in fact, there to ensure one thing: that Mayhew made it out of that forest in one piece.

Wookies, Sasquatch, Bigfoot, oh my!

Mayhew may have lacked Wookiee strength, but it's hard to imagine what exactly he had to worry about besides some rowdy Ewoks. If anything it was anyone lost enough to wander near the set that should've been worried. Imagine not knowing "Star Wars" was being filmed nearby and you stumble on Mayhew in full costume? You'd obviously get the scare of a lifetime, though Mayhew would get a pretty great behind-the-scenes tale. It sounds like a relatively harmless outcome, unless, as Blackman relayed to "Vanity Fair" in 2008, you happened to be a hunter with a gun.

"This might be an apocryphal story. And the story goes that Peter Mayhew, the guy who played Chewbacca, always had to be accompanied by a couple guys in brightly colored vests so that he wouldn't accidentally get shot by somebody mistaking him for Bigfoot."

Blackman might've been cautious about verifying the story but then the actor confirmed it himself after being summoned via Reddit. While Chewbacca was steering clear of scout troopers, Mayhew was keeping his eyes peeled on the trees for camo jackets and orange vests. He couldn't go far without his entourage because people were actually worried a hunter would try to bag themselves a Bigfoot. But Mayhew made it through the filming of "Return of the Jedi" without being mistaken by anyone for the furry cryptid. Now we're just curious if during scenes on Hoth the same protocol was considered — though considering the filming location Finse, Norway is not exactly a hotspot for Yeti sightings, we doubt it.

Mayhew passed away in 2019 and remains an irreplaceable part of "Star Wars." After his first Reddit AMA the actor made an account to stay connected with fans. William Shatner AKA Captain Kirk even makes an appearance in the thread — another collision of universes that rivals "Into The Great Unknown." Anyone feeling nostalgic and appreciative of Mayhew need only scroll through its treasure trove of stories and interactions as proof of his adoration for the role.

Thank you for bringing Chewie to life and braving even the possibility of hunters! Or as Chewie would say: "Uughghhhgh uughghhhgh huuguughghg!"