Han shot (himself) first.

Actor Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca picks up a young Carrie Fisher.

Clowning around on the Death Star.

A sense of scale in the Star Wars universe.

George Lucas and Irvin Kershner prepare an ebony C-3P0.

Billy Dee Williams looking fabulous.

Kenny Baker gives Anthony Daniels a lift around town.

Kenny Baker as he looks outside of his R2-D2 costume.

The Jawas in Star Wars were played by children.

R2-D2 falls over. Is Kenny Baker wearing a diaper?

Carrie Fisher throws snowballs on The Empire Strikes Back set.

Peter Mayhew seems to have had a thing for a young Carrie Fisher, and who can blame him?

Was this the true romance of the Star Wars films?

A look at Peter Mayhew without his Chewbacca mask.

Hard at work on the Millennium Falcon.

All of the tinier bipedal robots had little people inside them.

It takes a village to make a movie.

Mark Hamill's Supremes impression. "Stop!"

Anthony Daniels was a trained mime before he became C-3P0.

The Banthas in the first Star Wars movie was played by an elephant.

George Lucas directs Sir Alec Guinness, collecting a paycheck.

Another look at the kids who played Jawas.

The Bantha costumes might be furry, but the elephants inside them don't seem to mind.

Even C-3P0 was not immune to Carrie Fisher's charms.

Associate Producer Gary Kurtz helps Mark Hamill with his Yoda backpack.

Carrie Fisher's hair before they go up in buns.

On the set of the Death Star.

A lightsaber duel before the special effects get put in.

A coffee break on the set of Star Wars.

Kenny Baker also played one of the Ewoks.

Carrie Fisher with an 11-year-old Warwick Davis on her lap.

"What's my motivation again?"

Hey! You!

Carrie Fisher takes a nap on the set of The Empire Strikes Back.

Line readings for Empire.

Everyone loves Associate Producer Gary Kurtz's chinbeard.

George Lucas, Darth Vader, and Irvin Kershner.

Han Solo drives a Hoth snow vehicle that ended up cut out of the film.

Legendary Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie at work.

Try as Irvin Kershner might, Mark Hamill would not fit in the R2-D2 costume.

Some extras snuggle up to Carrie Fisher for warmth. Who can blame them?

Some extras snuggle up to Carrie Fisher for warmth. Who can blame them?

The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner riding a Tauntaun.

Frank Oz and Jim Henson inspect the Yoda puppet.

Dancing on Hoth with Carrie Fisher.

Ralph McQuarrie paints a scene from Bespin.

Luke's artificial hand.

Co.Design

47 Behind-The-Scenes Photos Of "Star Wars"

Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has been posting behind-the-scenes photos of the original Star Wars movies on Twitter from his personal archives. These are the best.

Actor Peter Mayhew is the kind of guy who you'd probably think twice about sitting across from in a bar. Towering over seven-and-a-half feet tall, Mayhew is a shaggy, wild-eyed giant in the civilian world, and in his professional life, an even wilder, shaggier giant by the name of Chewbacca who has been known to rip people's arms out of their sockets in the Star Wars movies for beating him at a game of holo-chess.

Yet beneath the shag, both Mayhew himself and his famous Wookiee counterpart are famous sweethearts. As if to prove it, Mayhew has recently taken himself to Twitter to post a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes photos from his personal archives, showing the world of Star Wars as it existed between 1976 and 1983. The collection, compiled in the slide show above, offers followers a unique view of Tatooine, Bespin, Endor, and Dagobah from behind the camera.

The story about how Mayhew became involved with Star Wars is interesting. Born with a case of gigantism, Mayhew originally auditioned for the role of Darth Vader, only to be passed up for the role in favor of David Prowse, a surly English bodybuilder who was ultimately the man chosen to be inside the costume. (Much to Prowse's dismay, American actor James Earl Jones dubbed in Darth Vader's lines).

Although Mayhew was disappointed to be passed over for the role of Vader at first, it's hard to imagine him as anyone other than Chewbacca when looking at the photographs of him interacting with George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Irvin Kershner (director of The Empire Strikes Back), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), and an 11-year old Warwick Davis (the Ewok Wicket from Return of the Jedi). He's just too sweet and at-ease with his fellow stars to play Star Wars's big heavy.

In Mayhew's photos, we get a look at how the most iconic sci-fi trilogy of the last 40 years was actually made. We see how elephants were dressed up in furs to transform them into Banthas, Frank Oz and Jim Henson consulting on an early Yoda puppet, Princess Leia and her stunt double sun-bathing in their gold bikinis, Chewbacca copping a feel, Luke and Vader practicing their dueling, and many more small snatches of life from the Star Wars set.

To me, perhaps what stands out most about Mayhew's photos is how young and full of life everyone seems, as if they all know that they are not only taking part in the most significant roles of their careers, but are reveling in it. At this point, the making of the original Star Wars films seems like it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but looking at these pictures, it's hard to believe that Carrie Fisher didn't put her hair up in cinnamon rolls for the first time yesterday.

You can follow Peter Mayhew on Twitter here.

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3 Comments

  • Kimberly Cross

    I love these images; thanks for a great post. However, I find it irksome to see multiple references to Carrie Fisher alone as being "young." Everyone pictured here is young. Is it really necessary to single out the lone female in the group? The singularity of the label's application comes across as sexist - however unintentionally. Otherwise, great article and pics!