As Han Solo once said, it's not wise to upset a Wookiee. So it's probably good news for all involved that
Mayhew played Chewbacca, Solo's trusted co-pilot, in the original
The casting of Mayhew suggests that Chewbacca will be brought to life by an actor in a costume and makeup rather than computer-generated imagery, although the filmmakers could presumably go the performance-capture route used in movies like
Speculation swirled that Mayhew would be returning to the "Star Wars" universe after he recently canceled an appearance at a Texas comic convention "due to filming" in May, which would fall squarely in the time frame when "Episode VII" is expected to be in production.
Last month, the official "Star Wars" website said the new film would start shooting in London in May, and Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn recently said that production on the movie was already underway.
Set for release Dec. 18, 2015, "Episode VII" is the first installment of a planned new trilogy from Disney and
Along with Mayhew, other familiar faces expected to return in supporting roles are Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker),
Abrams' presumed decision to make Chewbacca a flesh-and-blood actor could yield -- or avoid -- other consequences as well.
In George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel films "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) and the aforementioned "Revenge of the Sith," the decision to render Yoda via CGI rather than puppetry perturbed some die-hard fans.
As the filmmakers well know, it's not wise to upset them either.