Thursday brought the tragic news that Peter Mayhew, most known for playing everyone’s favorite Wookie Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga for nearly 40 years, died earlier this week on April 30th at the age of 74. The British actor’s passing has been met with an outpouring of grief on social media, with his colleagues in the industry adding to the messages by paying their respect.
Disney CEO Robert Iger is the latest to offer his condolences. In a tweet shared this evening, Iger wrote on behalf of The Walt Disney Company:
“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.”
Iger’s comments about Mayhew being a “gentle giant” echo the words that his co-star Mark Hamill also shared today on Twitter. Hamill and Mayhew were close friends who had known each other since production on A New Hope in 1977, so the actor was understandably cut up. “I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him,” Hamill wrote. “Thanks Pete.”
After the original Star Wars, Mayhew reprised his role in both The Empire Strikes Back (1981) and Return of the Jedi (1983). He was one of only a small handful of stars of the Original Trilogy to return for the prequel movies, too, as he got to suit up as Chewie again in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. After Disney purchased the franchise this decade, Mayhew gave his final performance as Chewbacca in 2015’s The Force Awakens. He shared the role in the movie with Joonas Suotamo, who’s since taken over the iconic part full-time.
Chewbacca will next appear in this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and we can imagine the movie being dedicated to the memory of Peter Mayhew. Rest in peace, sir.