Today brought the sad news that Star Wars legend Peter Mayhew died on April 30th at the age of 74. The British actor is best known the world over for portraying everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca. Fans are currently pouring out their messages on social media in honor of Mayhew, and one of these is fellow citizen of that galaxy far, far away Mark Hamill, who’s now paid tribute to his longtime co-star.
“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,” Hamill wrote on Twitter. “I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken.”
Alongside his words, Hamill shared an image of his friend, a recent snap of the two of them, a BTS image from the making of The Empire Strikes Back and the tragic announcement of Mayhew’s passing as shared by his family.
Mayhew and Hamill have known each other since A New Hope, released in 1977, also appearing together in The Empire Strikes Back (1981) and Return of the Jedi (1983). While Hamill didn’t play Luke Skywalker for over 30 years, Mayhew later reprised Chewbacca in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. For 2015’s The Force Awakens, he shared the iconic part with Joonas Suotomo and from The Last Jedi onwards, Mayhew officially retired from the character and Suotomo took over full-time.
Hamill is set to return as Luke himself, presumably for the last time, in this December’s The Rise of Skywalker, which will bring the Star Wars saga so far to an exciting conclusion. It’s a great shame Mayhew won’t get to see the culmination of the story of the Skywalkers that he was such a key part of, but the reaction of his fans and colleagues online shows that he’ll still be in our thoughts when watching the movie.