12:06pm PT by Rebecca Ford
'Star Wars: Episode VII' Adds Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca (Exclusive)
The trio of new leads for Star Wars: Episode VII has yet to be revealed, but an actor from the original franchise is returning to reprise his role.
Peter Mayhew will play Chewbacca for Disney and Lucasfilm's upcoming sequel, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Mayhew played the legendary Wookiee and Han Solo's co-pilot in the original trilogy, beginning with Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope in 1977. Rumors recently surfaced that he was reprising his role after he canceled an upcoming appearance at Texas convention Comicpalooza "due to filming." Since the convention takes place May 23-26, many fans wondered if that meant the actor would be busy with Episode VII.
Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn revealed on April 2 that the new Star Wars had already begun filming and most of the cast was set. "We have a lot of them [in place]," he said about the main actors, whose names have not been disclosed. "We're just not completely done yet."
Star Wars: Episode VII, to be directed by J.J. Abrams and slated to hit theaters Dec. 18, 2015, has been shrouded in a thick veil of secrecy, with dozens of names flying through the rumor mill for months now. THR reported that Adam Driver will be playing an undisclosed villain. Original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher also are said to be reprising their roles.
In March, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger said the new project would begin filming in May and will be set 30 years after the events in 1983's Return of the Jedi. "There will be some very familiar faces along with a trio of new young leads," he said during Disney's annual shareholder's meeting in Portland, Ore.
Mayhew, who also played Chewbacca in prequel film Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, has mainly spent his career playing the iconic character, but also appeared in the horror film Terror and did voice work in the British version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy. He's repped by Entertainment Legends Management and Cohen & Gardner.
Disney and Lucasfilm had no comment.