Movie Legends: Did Chewbacca Need 'Big Foot' Protection While Filming?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Peter Mayhew needed protection from "Big Foot" hunters while filming Return of the Jedi in the forests of California.

During the filming of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas picked Del Norte County to film the Endor sequences for the film. Endor was a forest planet and Del Norte is right up near Oregon's border, which is what has led a lot of folks to call the filming location the "Pacific Northwest," which it kind of is, but some folks would not call Northern California "Pacific Northwest." It really doesn't matter all that much.

It's amazing how many awesome places there are to film in the U.S...

Anyhow, a legend has come out that while filming, Peter Mayhew, the rather tall actor who has played Chewbacca for 40 years now...

had to be protected while filming in the forest in the fears that someone might confuse him for "Big Foot" and try to shoot him...

Mayhew said on Reddit that he can confirm the story that people were assigned brightly colored vests to go around with him to make sure people knew he wasn't a Sasquatch.

I can easily believe that it was a concern at the time. Not even that he would be confused for Big Foot, per se, but what if he was confused for a bear? Or something like that. In an article back in 2011, Sean Whitely wrote:

While shooting “Return of the Jedi” in the redwood forests of Northern California, Peter Mayhew, the seven foot, three inch actor who portrayed Chewbacca the Wookiee, was warned not to walk off set in costume for fear of being shot by hunters. “Remember, this is Bigfoot country,” he was told by concerned crew members.

Mayhew confirmed that they gave him specific protection, but I wouldn't be shocked if he's just slightly misremembering that it was more a situation where they just warned him to be careful. That said, I really don't have any real reason to specifically disprove Mayhew's direct confirmation, so I guess I believe that some crew members were assigned "Sasquatch protection" duties.

This is all especially amusing since there was a famous Star Wars Tales story by Honor Blackman and Sean Murphy where Han Solo and Chewbacca end up in the Redwood forests in our past (their present) and Han dies and Chewie lives on and BECOMES "Sasquatch"...

What a classic short story that was.

Anyhow, I'll go with the legend as...

STATUS: Apparently True

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film. Click here for more legends specifically about Star Wars films.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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