On various making-of specials and DVD/BR extras you can find footage from the set of the original Star Wars movies where Chewbacca speaks English. I'm not sure but it may be just Peter Mayhew in the costume speaking

Obviously these lines were dubbed over in the final movie and Wookies speak Shyriiwook in the official universe, but something I've never been able to find a definitive answer to is whether or not the original plan was for Chewbacca to speak English.

On the one hand it makes sense that it would just be lines spoken by the actor in the costume so that the other actors like Harrison Ford could react to it, similar to how David Prowse spoke lines from the Darth Vader costume that were overdubbed by James Earl Jones later. On the other hand we know that in the original movie there were labels with English writing on them that were digitally changed to the Aurebesh alphabet, and there's an anecdote circulating that David Prowse wasn't informed ahead of time that his voice was going to be replaced.

Is there a definitive answer out there as to whether or not it was always intended for Chewbacca to speak Shyriiwook or was it going to originally be English?

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    Probably just keeping up the rhythm of the dialogues. Actor's voice later removed and replaced with Chewies groans.
    – user22531
    Jun 6, 2016 at 16:34
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    Note how Chewy opens his mouth wide before speaking, and then opens it barely while reciting the dialogue. That's a good visual clue that English dialogue was never intended in the movie. As you stated, it was likely just used so the actors could react to the audible cues. Jun 7, 2016 at 3:59

1 Answer 1


No: They never intended him to speak English (Galactic Basic)

According to an interview with Ben Burtt (the voice of Chewbacca), they never intended Chewbacca to speak English and always intended to dub his voice. This based on the fact that he was hired to do the voice during the script stage. The English lines from Mayhew I would imagine were meant to help the other actors, specifically Ford, have something to act against.

Ben Burtt: Chewy was actually the first voice that I was hired to work on back when Star Wars was just in the script stage. They knew they had this character, Chewbacca, that was going to have to act and appear in scenes with other actors and the question was: what would he sound like?

He's not going to speak English. He's going to speak in some sort of alien/animal type of voice, its supposed to be an intelligent language, but not English, not German not French, not something people would recognize, it had to be some sort of animal.

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