'Star Wars: Episode 7' Will Feature the Return of Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca

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With shooting already begun in some capacity, the full cast of 'Star Wars: Episode 7' should be announced very soon. In the meantime, the fans have been thrown one very large bone: Peter Mayhew, the man behind the faithful Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca, will be among those returning to the galaxy far, far away.

The news comes via The Hollywood Reporter, who reports that the rumors of his return first began when he canceled an appearance at a comic book convention next month do an undisclosed film project. Since Mayhew doesn't work too much and spends the bulk of his time touring the fan and autograph circuit, it's a pretty solid leap to make.

The seven-foot-three-inch Mayhew played Han Solo's loyal sidekick in the original trilogy of 'Star Wars' films and made brief appearance in 'Star Wars: Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith.' Although Chewbacca's voice has always been supplied by the franchise's post-production team, Mayhew's sheer size and physicality defined the character just as much as his famous growl. Of course, director J.J. Abrams would want to have him back, especially since he hasn't been shy about making 'Episode 7' a victory lap for as many original cast members as possible.

The only foreseeable problem is that Mayhew has been battling health problems for many years now and is often seen in a wheelchair or on crutches. Hopefully, he's well enough to put on the costume one more time. After all, if Han, Luke and Leia can star in this film as senior citizens, than so can Chewie.

'Star Wars: Episode 7' is slated to hit theaters on December 18, 2015.

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