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Masks

The mask is the most important part of the costume, and also the most difficult.


Reference Images

Original Trilogy Masks

Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary

Pages 67, 176-179, 181, 210 - 211

Star Wars Costumes

Pages 17, 45 - 47

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Visual Dictionary

Pages 48 - 49

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Visual Dictionary

Page 52

People Magazine 2017 Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi

Pages 10, 76

Revenge of the Sith Mask

Sequel Trilogy Masks

Make-Up


General Information

Anatomy & Structure

  1. Chewie's teeth are human except for his upper and lower canines, which are sharp, animal-like fangs.
  2. There is a large gap between his upper front teeth and his upper canines, probably to create room for the lower canines when the mouth closes.
  3. The pattern of Chewie's hair radiates from his eyes. He has a mustache-like feature as well.
  4. There are two holes in the back of his mouth.
  5. There is a vertical line in his nose and it runs down to his upper lip.
  6. Chewie's eyes are blue.
  7. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the Chewie mask added about 4” (10.16 centimeters) to Peter’s height. Chewie has a large forehead for this reason.
  8. Peter Mayhew has stated that he had perfect visibility in the masks.

Lineage

Stuart Freeborn and 2001: A Space Odyssey

  1. The original Chewie mask was based on the principles that Stuart Freeborn and his team pioneered for the ape costumes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is, they are mechanical masks, not prosthetic appliances.
  2. Chewbacca was an original creation; while the same techniques that brought 2001's apes to life were used in Chewie's construction, he was not cobbled together from left over materials.

John Chambers and Planet of the Apes

  1. There is an urban legend that Chewbacca was based on the ape make-up from the Planet of the Apes franchise, either using the same techniques or even using leftovers from the recently cancelled TV series. This is completely untrue.
  2. The Planet of the Apes make-up appliances were not mechanical and were constructed by John Chambers and his team at the same time Stuart Freeborn and his team were building the animatronic apes for 2001.

Skin

  1. For the original trilogy, the skins were foam latex. Nick Maley ran Stuart Freeborn's foam lab on Star Wars and Empire and ran all of the Wookiee skins. Foam latex is not the same thing as standard mask making latex, also known as RD-407 latex that is commonly used in Halloween masks.
  2. The photos of the unfinished Chewbacca skins (from the collection of Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz) show that the skins did not cover the entire head, but stopped in the middle of the forehead ad in front of the ears.
  3. The skins in Revenge of the Sith were soft, prosthetic grade silicone and covered the entire under skull.
  4. For The Force Awakens and all subsequent films, the creature team acquired the original Chewbacca mask mold from Stuart Freeborn, 3D scanned it, and produced their masks based on that.

Underskull & Mechanics

Original Trilogy

  1. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the original mask had a polyurethane mechanical under skull. When Peter Mayhew opened his mouth, his jaw would force the mechanical jaws open.
  2. The movement of the mechanical mouth pulled the lips back to reveal the teeth whenever the mouth was opened. In one of the photos of the under skull, you can see a channel cut into the skull that goes from the lip down to the lower jaw in order to facilitate a cable to control the lip motion.
  3. Peter Mayhew states that the lip snarl was caused by magnets that repelled each other.
  4. I spoke to Peter Mayhew at DragonCon 2007, and he claimed that the tongue had a small metal rod cast into it that allowed him to make the tongue wiggle. You can see the tongue move slightly at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when he is in the cockpit of the Falcon with Lando.
  5. According to Nick Maley's website, both the 2001 apes and Chewbacca used a fiberglass underskull that was filled with rigid polyurethane foam.
  6. According to Nick Maley, Chewbacca had a double hinge system that allowed the jaw to not only open and close but pivot left and right.

Revenge of the Sith

  1. At DragonCon 2007, Peter Mayhew told me that the Revenge of the Sith mask was very heavy due to the animatronics. However, the puppeteer did not use the animatronics much and instead relied on Peter's own movements.

Sequel Trilogy

Hair

  1. Darren Blum spoke with Lou Elsey at Celebration III, and she explained that most of the hair on the Episode 3 masks had been glued on using a product called Prosaide. The inner areas of the face had the hair punched in.
  2. The Elsey's also explained that they punched in several hairs going cross-wise to help tame the hair and keep it down against the mask. Darren guessed that they would have punched in a single long hair running ear to ear over the top of the head with it being punched in every inch and a half or so. This hair would be concealed by hair from the face and would give something for the top most layer of hair to bond to using hairspray.
  3. Allure: Star Wars: Chewbacca's Hair Routine in The Force Awakens Is Actually Pretty Glam

Materials & Construction Techniques

Scratch-Building a Mask

Lifecasting

Sculpting

Mold-Making

Casting the Skin

Casting the Underskull

Jaw & Lip Mechanics

Mouth & Teeth

Painting

FuseFX and Psycho Paints work. You can’t use other pants (even latex mask paints) because they will flake off.

Hair Work

Hair Grooming & Styling

Maintenence

Fan-Made Kits

Officially Licensed Masks

Rubies Costumes Supreme Edition Chewbacca Mask

Anovos Chewbacca Mask