Actor Peter Mayhew, who is best known for his portrayal of Chewbacca in the Star Wars series, has passed away. Mayhew died on April 30 in his home in North Texas, USA. He was 74.
His passing was announced by his family in a statement posted to Twitter. After the news broke, tributes poured in. Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill said, “He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him.” Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo opposite Mayhew’s Chewbacca, told The Hollywood Reporter, “Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”
A number of other actors and celebrities connected to Star Wars and otherwise have responded to the news. Scroll down to see their responses.
Mayhew played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens in a role shared by Joonas Suotamo. Mayhew did consulting work for The Last Jedi to help Suotamo feel capable in the role.
Outside of his film career, Mayhew did a lot of charitable work for groups like Wounded Warriors, Make-A-Wish, and the 501st Legion. He also created his own Peter Mayhew Foundation that supports individuals and families in need.
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. “His kindness, generosity, and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice,” his family said in their statement.
Mayhew’s first big movie role was in 1977’s “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger,” which was released in the same year as A New Hope.
He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
“We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing. Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself.”-Kathleen Kennedy.
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) May 3, 2019
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019
RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend. ❤️❤️
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
💔I am so sorry to hear about Peter. We had so many fun and memorable tweets back and forth over the years plus seeing each other at a convention here and there. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed! 😢 https://t.co/R3lAEvkQJc
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 2, 2019
Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew’s passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) May 2, 2019