Jeff Jensen
April 25, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of Sasquatch: The Musical. C’mon — it’s Wookiees! And in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, there’s a hairy host of them, including the original walking carpet himself, Chewbacca. Without revealing too much about George Lucas’ final prequel, we can tell you that Jedi Master Yoda visits the Wookiee world of Kashyyyk, and a Wookiee army gets to whoop up on some droids. (Silly robots: Don’t you know you always let the Wookiee win?) Basing his designs on the work of Chewie creator Stuart Freeborn, creature supervisor Dave Elsey constructed eight different Wookiee costumes with hair color chosen by Lucas (computer animation would later multiply the eight into Sith’s furry foreign legion). The suits were assembled from swatches of material cut into Wookiee shapes. ”Back in the day, little old ladies knitted together Chewbacca’s costume,” says Elsey. ”But with eight Wookiees, there wouldn’t have been enough room for the little old ladies we needed.” Peter Mayhew, now 60, reprises his legendary role as Chewie’s inside man, and according to Elsey, watching Lucas ”reunite” with the old fuzzball gave the crew goose bumps. Filling out the other Wookiees were some of Australia’s tallest men. ”We had to use ladders to comb them,” says Elsey, adding that vests with tiny veins coursing with carbonite-cold coolant kept the actors from sweating through their hair shirts. ”Sometimes they even said, ‘Can you turn up my temperature? I’m freezing in here!”’ Or, as Chewie would say: ”Wrahhhhhhh!”

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