The ‘Star Wars’ family is in mourning for Peter Mayhew, who brought Chewbacca to life in five of the franchise’s films. Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford are leading the tributes after he passed away at 74.
UPDATE, 5/2/19 (9:20 p.m. ET): Carrie Fisher passed away in Dec. 2016, but Billie Lourd reflected on both her deceased mother and Peter Mayhew in throwback photos posted to Instagram.
It’s a sad day for Star Wars fans as Peter Mayhew — who played Chewbacca in five of the films — has passed away at the age of 74. His family released a statement on May 2 via his Twitter account @TheWookieeRoars that the British-born actor died on April 30 at his home north of Dallas, surrounded by loved ones. Now his co-stars and friends led by Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Star Wars creator George Lucas are fondly remembering the beloved “gentle giant,” who standing at 7’2″ tall suited up as Han Solo’s sidekick for the original 1977-83 Star Wars Trilogy as well as 2015’s The Force Awakens and 2005’s Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Harrison worked closest with Peter, as Chewie was Han’s loyal pal and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. The 76-year-old actor released a statement to HollywoodLife.com that read “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.”
He continued, “Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to it’s continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend….”
Mark, 67, who played Luke Skywalker alongside Peter in four films tweeted, “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.” He included several photos including the pair at a fan convention and haunting black and white pic of Peter in costume without his Chewie headpiece while holding onto a collapsed Luke.
Chewbacca wouldn’t exist without the mind of Star Wars creator George Lucas, 74, who released a statement to HollywoodLife.com that read “Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature…and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”
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 to hear of the passing of Peter Mayhew. He was our beloved companion in a galaxy far, far, away. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans. The force will be with you always, Peter.
— San Diego Comic-Con (@Comic_Con) May 2, 2019
Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger — whose company now oversees the Star Wars franchise — tweeted “The
@WaltDisneyCo mourns the loss of our beloved #chewbacca portrayer, #PeterMayhew. Peter was larger than life in so many ways…a gentle giant playing a gentle giant. Rest in peace.”