Bigfoot starring Peter Mayhew

Posted by: Sean Whitley on January 6th, 2011

“The Bigfoot Movies That Might Have Been” is an occasional series that profiles Bigfoot-related movies that never made it off the ground.

While shooting “Return of the Jedi” in the redwood forests of Northern California, Peter Mayhew, the seven foot, three inch actor who portrayed Chewbacca the Wookiee, was warned not to walk off set in costume for fear of being shot by hunters. “Remember, this is Bigfoot country,” he was told by concerned crew members. Coincidentally enough, Mayhew was attached years later to the title role in “Bigfoot,” a film that was written by Mark Hanson and was to be directed by Brad Keller of Texas-based Fireside Entertainment. The film was in development from roughly 1999-2001.

Chewbacca the Wookiee

Hanson says he picked Bigfoot as the subject matter out of “pure fascination.” Likewise, Keller says that “Mysteries always excite me.” The project required both to do a bit of research, and they even consulted with Bigfoot buffs, including members of the then-titled Texas Bigfoot Research Center. Hanson adds that Bigfoot researchers “came out of the woodwork once it was known we were working on a movie” about the subject.

According to Keller, the film’s plot centered on Bigfoot being “the missing link between man and aliens from another world.” “Missing Link” was also a potential title for the film, and during appearances at memorabilia and science fiction conventions, Peter Mayhew referred to the project as “Bigfoot Among Us.” In a blurb from a 2001 issue of “The Star Wars Insider,” Mayhew referred to the film’s tone as being in the same vein as “The X-Files.”

As for how Keller and Hanson managed to get Mayhew interested in the title role, Keller recalls “I approached him at a party and he was interested in playing the part.”

Keller and Hanson shot a trailer for the film in the woods of East Texas. Shooting was planned to take place in both Texas and Louisiana, and casting notices appeared in regional newspapers such as “The Dallas Observer.” Hanson recalls that they were “told by a studio we had a deal.” Nine years later, Hanson says they’re “still waiting on the deal; I quit holding my breath, though.”

While the film never ended up getting made, Keller says he’d “still like to make it if funding can be raised.” As for Peter Mayhew, he got the chance to don another hairy, bipedal creature suit for “Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith” which was released in 2005.

Special thanks to Brad Keller and Mark Hanson for sharing their recollections.

Sean Whitley is the writer and director of “Southern Fried Bigfoot,” which is currently in broadcast rotation on The Documentary Channel.

Sean Whitley About Sean Whitley
Sean Whitley first heard stories of Bigfoot lurking in Texas at the ripe old age of four. Several sleepless nights and nightmare-laden years later, he attended Southern Methodist University on an academic scholarship and graduated with a BA in Cinema. Whitley has worked as a scriptwriter and field producer for a wide variety of programs that have been broadcast on The Cartoon Network, The Learning Channel, SPEED Channel, MTV, Spike TV, Starz/Encore, Turner Classic Movies, HGTV, and The Cooking Channel. "Southern Fried Bigfoot" is his directorial debut. He lives in the Dallas, Texas metro area with his wife Cynthia, a cat named Josh, and two dogs: Speckles, an Australian cattle mix, and Lovey, a Potcake from the British West Indies.

4 Responses to “Bigfoot starring Peter Mayhew”

  1. red_pill_junkie responds:

    The phrase “this is Bigfoot country” gets more punch if you say it with a cigarette holder and a white hat 😉

  2. Delmonstro responds:

    Interesting stuff, Sean!

  3. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    I have been interested in Sasquatch ever since I was a little boy, almost 40 years now. I read every book I could find on the subject. I even wrote an essay on Sasquatch for a final exam my junior year. I received an A by the way.

    It was the historical evidence of Sasquatch that interested me most. It is also what made me think that these Creatures could possibly exist based on the evidence collected over the past two centuries.

    Anyway, there are so many stories over hundreds of years that are fascinating about this subject. I often wonder why Hollywood doesn’t make a movie about Sasquatch based on what we know about the subject. I think this would be a better plot for a movie than Hollywood’s cornball plots they come up with.

    If someone took the time to create a serious movie with a plot based on current science, theory and historical data it would be a much better movie than a movie based on killer monkeys whacking teenagers making out by a swamp.

    I think a high budget, seriously approached, suspense thriller based on current theories and historical data would scare the hell out of people and make big bucks at the box office.

    I don’t think there is a need to make up stuff to scare or fascinate people in a movie about Sasquatch. I think presenting the reality of a 10 foot tall 850 plus pound creature is scary enough! Base a realistic movie with a good story on this creature and it would make a lot of money, I’d bet on that!

    With that said, I think most Bigfoot movies are good entertainment and I enjoy watching them for what they are “good entertainment”. I am not trying to take anything away from those movies; I am merely presenting my opinion on this subject.

  4. JMonkey responds:

    You mean Bigfoot does not whack teenagers making out down by the lake. Well that totally ruins it for me. I always pictured him as a reclusive weird monkey that only came out during inappropriate romantic moments to kill, or when someones camera was malfunctioning for a photo op.

    On a more serious note I believe your idea for a movie would work. People have a strange fascination in Bigfoot whether they truly believe in his existence or not. Unfortunately my concurence is no good to you, since I do not have any funding to help you in your endeavors.

    On a totally different note Chewbacca was always my favorite Star Wars character. I seemed to understand him and he had so much to say. At least to a small child of my age he did. LOL!

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