Star Wars Fans Pay Tribute To The Late Peter Mayhew

Chewbacca Han Solo

Last night, the Star Wars fandom was shaken by the news that original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew had passed away at the age of 74.

The announcement came from Mayhew’s official Twitter account, which also shared a statement from the star’s family:

Mayhew was working as an orderly in a London hospital when he was discovered by George Lucas. The director cast him to play the beloved Wookiee in 1977’s A New Hope because of his towering stature (at peak height, Mayhew was 7 feet and 3 inches). In the decades since, the actor portrayed Chewie for all of his live-action appearances up to and including 2015’s The Force Awakens, and later served as a credited “Chewbacca consultant” on The Last Jedi when Joonas Suotamo took over.

In recognition of Mayhew’s contributions to the series, fans have been taking to Twitter to share their tributes:

Since the news first broke of Mayhew’s passing, we’ve also seen various statements from those who worked with the man over the years. Harrison Ford, for instance, described his co-star as “a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character.” Mark Hamill, meanwhile, tweeted that Mayhew was “the gentlest of giants” and a “big man with an even bigger heart.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger echoed these sentiments when he described the star as “a gentle giant playing a gentle giant.” Lusasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, on the other hand, observed that Mayhew’s “iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself.”

Mayhew died of a heart attack on April 30th at his home in North Texas. There will be a private memorial service on June 29th and later this year, Star Wars fans will be able to attend an event in his honor at EmpireConLA.