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Chewbacca with Peter Mayhew

Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca from 1974 to 2015.

Peter Mayhew, an English actor who is most famous for playing Chewbacca from the first Star Wars movie to The Force Awakens in 2015, passed away on April 30 at the age of 74. His death was announced today. Mayhew was born in the United Kingdom and later emigrated to the United States, settling in Texas. Mayhew’s 7-foot 2-inch frame made him ideal to play giant characters such as Chewbacca. Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo replaced Mayhew for The Last Jedi and will reprise the role in The Rise of Skywalker.

Many figures in the Star Wars universe paid him homage. “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,” Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, said.

Chewbacca and Han Solo

Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, also gave a moving tribute to his friend.

Harrison Ford, who played Chewbacca’s best friend Han Solo, gave a tribute to Mayhew. “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 also said that Mayhew was a critical part of the Star Wars franchise. “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 its 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.”

Mayhew’s children and wife survive him. We will miss the actor and his presence in the Star Wars universe.