The entire Star Wars community is grieving over the loss of one of the most iconic actors in the history of the franchise. Peter Mayhew, the lovable giant who played Chewbacca, passed away at 74 earlier this week due to a heart attack. Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, shared a heart-warming tweet with the world on Thursday night to reflect on the loss:
RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend.
Although Mayhew didn’t star in Johnson’s film, the actor was still a big part in the production. Despite retiring from the role due to health problems and limited mobility, the original Chewbacca remained on set to serve as a “Wookie consultant.” He helped teach current Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo the nuances of the legendary role and remained very active in the Star Wars fandom up until his death.
Throughout the world, fans and celebrities alike have been lamenting the tragic loss. Mark Hamill, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford, Disney and more have all come out to express their condolences for the loss of their co-star and friend.
While few may have actually identified the giant without his signature wooly fur, Mayhew spent years onscreen portraying one of the most recognizable members of the intergalactic franchise. The British American towered over most of the world, but never seemed to let his height or fame get to his head.
While the world grapples with this loss, the Star Wars family will continue to honor the memory of their original cast member. There will be a private memorial service on June 29th for Mayhew, who is survived by his wife and three children, and a gathering for fans at EmpireConLA in early December.