Tis’ a sad day for old-school Star Wars fans: the actor for everybody’s favourite walking shag carpet killing machine Chewbacca recently passed away.
Peter Mayhew died at the age of 74 last Tuesday in his North Texas home with his family by his side. He was undergoing spinal surgery in July to help improve his mobility.
Hailing from London, Peter was renowned for playing the star Wookie in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, and The Force Awakens. He landed this gig due to his physique since writer-director George Lucas was looking for someone taller than Darth Vader. He stood at 7-foot-3 in his prime.
While the actor didn’t say much -this is a Wookie after all- his body language and expressive movement under the suit brought the sci-fi creature to life and warmed the hearts of many Star Wars fans from the late 70s to present day. We wouldn’t be getting folks like the Chewbacca Mask Lady were it not for Peter Mayhew’s massive contribution to the series.
Here are a few words from his co-stars since his passing:
George Lucas, Star Wars creator/director: “Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature…and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”
Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker): “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. I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete.”
Harrison Ford (Han Solo): “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. 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 its 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.”
Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm head: “We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing. Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself.
When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture, and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory.”
Rest in peace, good sir.