It’s a sad day for Star Wars fans around the world, as we learned just a few hours ago that original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew had passed away at the age of 74.
The news was revealed by the actor’s official Twitter account, which shared the following message:
“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.”
As fans will know, Mayhew first suited up as the beloved Wookiee in 1977’s A New Hope, and reprised the role for all of Chewbaccca’s live-action appearances up to and including The Force Awakens. Following that, Joonas Suotamo took over, but Mayhew remained heavily involved in the franchise right up to his death, and holds a special place in many hearts, including Harrison Ford’s.
Yes, the Han Solo actor was obviously very close with Mayhew and in a statement released earlier today, the legendary star shared the following about his good friend:
“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 added, “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…”
Mayhew and Ford were last seen on screen together in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which saw them return to their roles many decades after Return of the Jedi. It was a swan song for both of the stars as well, and certainly gave them a memorable last outing in the franchise.
Speaking of which, the Skywalker Saga will carry on – and conclude – this December with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And while it’s terribly tragic that Mayhew won’t be around to see it, he’ll surely be in the hearts of viewers all around the world as they sit down in theaters to watch the film.
RIP Peter Mayhew, you’ll be missed.