Chasing rumors can be a tricky business in the movie world, especially if they're related to a hot property like Star Wars: Episode VII and a filmmaker like J.J. Abrams. Abrams has brought his trademark "mystery box" brand of filmmaking along with him for the next installment in the Star Wars cinematic universe; to date, he's played with his cards close to the vest, and Disney has followed along in kind, letting practically no plot or casting details slip through any official avenues.
It's a tactic that works, in the sense that everything about Star Wars: Episode VII has mostly stayed under lock and key for the whole of pre-production, but the strategy also fosters wild speculation once the Internet gets a whiff of even a questionable lead. Case in point: after much hemming and hawing over the possibility that the film might recast Chewbacca, everybody's favorite Wookie, following actor Peter Mayhew's double-knee replacement surgery, there's now a glimmer of hope Mayhew may reprise his role after all.
Do note, before continuing, that this is very much unconfirmed, a theory spurred on by a somewhat enigmatic Tweet fired off by the Comicpalooza Con's Twitter account, the subtext of which the folks at Coming Soon picked up on immediately. Turns out that Mayhew had been on the books to appear at this year's Comicpalooza event, but that he canceled that scheduled guest stint earlier today for filming reasons; all told, it's a pretty cryptic message, the full content of which can be seen below:
We regret to announce that Peter Mayhew is canceling his appearance at Comicpalooza this year due to filming.
— Comicpalooza Con (@Comicpalooza) March 28, 2014
The logic here is pretty straightforward: Mayhew has backed out of Comicpalooza '14, which takes place in May, and Star Wars: Episode VII (reportedly) begins shooting sometime in May, which presents too much of a convenience to ignore. Who would reasonably analyze this turn of events and chalk it up to coincidence? If that's not enough, Mayhew himself has even expressed his interest in picking up where he left off thirty plus years ago as Chewbacca, too. Seems fairly cut and dry.
But though Mayhew may want to play Chewbacca, that doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to play Chewbacca. Double-knee replacements are no joke, for one, and for another there's always the possibility that the original casting call that made everybody think of Chewbacca could actually have been casting for Lowbacca, Chewi's nephew and a Jedi Knight trained by none other than Luke Skywalker.
Of course, the temptation to immediately jump to the obvious conclusion here is strong, and it wouldn't be unprecedented in the brief, very hushed-up history of Star Wars: Episode VII's tiresome casting saga. Scuttlebutt strongly favors the potential involvement of Carrie Fischer, as well as Mark Hamil and Harrison Ford, on the new project, and while all of that remains firmly rooted in the realm of hearsay and rumor, the fact that we're still talking about the original cast returning makes the idea of Mayhew taking part in production a lot less doubtful on paper.
That's the extent of the skinny on Mayhew's participation in Star Wars: Episode VII, and as usual, take the news well-salted until a more authoritative announcement is made to one effect or another. Still, it would be pretty great to see Mayhew bring Chewbacca to life once again, so let's hope for the best on this one.
Star Wars: Episode VII will open in US theaters on December 18th, 2015.