Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dead at 74

The 7 ft 3 British-American died on April 30, his family said in a statement to the media.

May 3, 2019 13:30
1 minute read.
Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dead at 74

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, arrives at the European Premiere of Star Wars, The Force Awakens in Leicester Square, London. (photo credit: DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS)

The Star Wars cast is mourning the death of one of its own, Chewbacca star Peter Mayhew.

The 7 ft 3 British-American died on April 30 at the age of 74, his family said in a statement to the media.

Mayhew made his debut as the well-loved Wookie in 1977s Star Wars: A New Hope and went on to star in four more of the blockbuster franchise including 2015s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“Chewie transformed me,” he once said of acting in the costume. “The attitude was different. The walk was different. Do the scenes, come back, take the mask off, Peter was back.”

Although he did not act in 2017s Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Solo: A Star Wars story, Mayhew was very instrumental in coaching his replacement through both films.

Harrison Ford who played Chewbacca's pilot and partner in crime, Hans Solo, said in a statement on Thursday night that "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,” Ford said.

“We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement on Friday morning. “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. When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture, and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory.”

Mark Hamill who portrays protagonist Luke Skywalker tweeted that he was heartbroken.

"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," he wrote.

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