It's been a long time coming, but the Wookiee co-pilot will make an appearance on the season finale of Cartoon Network's Clone Wars series, and Peter Mayhew—the man behind the mask—was instrumental in bringing the walking carpet to life.
The reason it took so long for Chewie to make it to Clone Wars had nothing to do with resistance on anyone's part. In fact, supervising director Dave Filoni has wanted to include history's most famous Wookiee—who is over 200 years old by the time he helps destroy the first Death Star—in his sweeping drama for a while. But technology got in the way. As he told Entertainment Weekly:
"We've wanted to have Chewbacca on the show from the beginning... But the technical side just wasn't there, until we devoted extra resources into researching how to animate fur when George [Lucas] said Chewbacca had to appear this season."
To get the details right, Filoni and his Star Wars brain trust turned to Mayhew himself, who provided indispensable knowledge about how sci-fi's most rugged sidekick walked, talked and breathed. "You can't have Chewbacca without Peter being involved," Filoni added. "His movements and his mannerisms make that character." (To see Mayhew walk Filoni and company through his take on Chewbacca, take a gander at EW's exclusive clip.)
As for how Chewie will play into the season finale's drama, titled "Wookiee Hunt," Lucasfilm is keeping a tight lid on any plot details, beyond this: It won't take place on the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, and it will feature Trandoshans, the reptilian species that helped the Empire enslave the Wookiees, best known for the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter Bossk.