You may be wondering:
Which Famous Movie Character’s Name Was Inspired by Filmmaker George Lucas’s Dog?
People often say that dogs are man’s best friend. Chewbacca, one of the most well-liked characters in the Star Wars saga, was based on Indiana, George Lucas’s pet dog, who ended up becoming much more than that for the filmmaker.
The appreciation that George Lucas had for his dog Indiana led to the creation of the friendship between Han Solo and his copilot Chewbacca. Indiana, like Chewbacca, was a powerful, brave, resilient, imposing, playful, and fiercely loyal companion. Even in his outward appearance, Chewie resembled a dog at first; he had perky ears, bright eyes, and even a drooping tongue at certain points in his life.
I had an Alaskan Malamute when I was writing the film [Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope]. A very sweet dog, she would always sit next to me when I was writing. And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat. A Malamute is a very large dog—like a 130 pounds and bigger than a human being and very long-haired.
– George Lucas
Over time, the Wookiee transformed into a clothed and armored lemur-like figure, and then into the now-iconic amalgam of an ape, a cat, and — yep! — a dog.
George Lucas may no longer be in charge of Lucasfilm, but he will always be known as the man who made the “Star Wars” franchise possible. While the “Star Wars” franchise has exploded in popularity thanks to spinoffs like “The Mandalorian” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” nothing can compare to the original trilogy that introduced us to Lucas’ space voyage.
At the age of 33, Lucas gave us the heroes and villains of the Sith and the Jedi, the two opposing orders at the heart of his beloved space opera. However, the “Star Wars” universe is full with variety, so ancillary characters who don’t neatly fit into any of those categories can nonetheless find a home there.
Lucas also gave us Princess Leia, Han Solo, and his trusty droid companion, Chewbacca, in addition to Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. And if you’ve always been curious about the impetus for Lucas’s inclusion of the enormous walking carpet we all know and love as Chewie in the “Star Wars” world, you’re in for a treat.
How George Lucas’ Dog Inspired Chewbacca
The inspiration behind the Wookiee called Chewbacca was the same as Harrison Ford’s character in the “Indiana Jones” movies! In the 1970s, George Lucas owned an Alaskan Malamute named Indiana, from whom he drew inspiration for the fan-favorite Wookiee, obviously not in appearance but definitely in personality.
Though the real-life dog’s appearance is nothing like Chewie’s shaggy brown hair, the American Kennel Club says the Malamute is known for having an affectionate temperament, and they’re extremely loyal and playful. Lucas appears to have been inspired by the traits of his companion and displayed his relationship with Indiana through Chewie and Han Solo’s friendship.
“I had an Alaskan Malamute when I was writing the film [Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope],” Lucas said once, via The Denver Art Museum. “A very sweet dog, she would always sit next to me when I was writing. And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat.”
As Lucas proceeded to compose Chewie’s character, his appearance finally morphed into a clothed, lemur-like creature. The Wookiee warrior’s appearance has often been compared to the Brussels griffon dog, because of the similarities in their face hair. But Chewbacca groans and growls his way out of conversations and can pull arms right out of their sockets.
He played a vital part in the Rebellion of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and he continues to do so in the new “Star Wars” series. Even if that friend is a tiny green Jedi who he met on his home planet in the “Star Wars” prequels, he remains a faithful companion. But it’s the one fan-favorite pal of Chewbacca who matters the most.
George Lucas’s close buddy, the famed “The Godfather” filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, served as inspiration for Chewie’s companion and best friend Han Solo. Before “Star Wars,” Lucas and Kubrick were already close friends, and Lucas spent considerable time with Kubrick on the filming of “Apocalypse Now.” His “smooth-talking” demeanor is claimed to have partly influenced Solo. If you need a pick-me-up during the day, just picture Francis Ford Coppola and an Alaskan Malamute piloting the Millennium Falcon through hyperspace instead of Han Solo and Chewbacca.