Well, we still don’t know who any of the new additions will be when J.J. Abrams, Disney, and Lucasfilm finally pull the cover off of Star Wars: Episode VII, but at least one familiar face will be there. Peter Mayhew, who plays everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca, will be back, presumably at the controls of the Millennium Falcon and as ornery as ever. Maybe he’s become even crankier with age; that could be fun.
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s sources, Mayhew joins the other confirmed classic cast member that we know about, R2-D2. Most of us assume that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford will all be back as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo, respectively, but so far there’s nothing concrete on that front. When Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over the screenwriting duties from Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), reports were that their story brought the original big three back into the fold, while the earlier drafts focused more on a younger generation of new-jack kids.
This report seemingly confirms the conjecture that surfaced about Mayhew after he pulled out of an appearance at a comic convention near the end of May. The 7’3” Brit cited conflicts with his filming schedule as his reason, and since we’ve long been hearing rumors that Episode VII would begin filming around that time, it didn’t take long for fans to put two-and-two together and come up with the theory that he’s returning to the Star Wars universe. It’s a damn good thing, too, if the rest of the old guard is there, and he isn’t, it just wouldn’t feel right. Chewie is such a ubiquitous presence that his would be a conspicuous absence, much like R2 or C-3PO. You could get away without Lando or Boba Fett, but no Chewbacca would be bad news.
Over the weekend, Disney Chair Alan Horn let it out that filming has actually started. That’s the extent of the report, and while we know nothing more than this—not where, what, or who is involved—that’s still exciting news. Horn also said that though there are some lingering gaps, the majority of the cast is locked into place. In theory, once things really get rolling on the production front, we’ll probably start hearing about the other people that are actually involved in the movie. Some speculate that we’ll hear an announcement on May 4, Star Wars Day—“May the Fourth be with you” and all that—but we’ll have to just wait and see which of the myriad casting rumors pan out.
Star Wars: Episode VII opens everywhere on December 18, 2015.