Peter Mayhew, the actor who played one of the most recognisable characters from the 'Star Wars' films, Chewbacca, has died. He was 74.
The London-born 7'3" actor first played the hirstute Wookiee from the Planet Kashyyk in the 1977 original, before fully handing over the reins to Joonas Suotamo for 2015's 'The Last Jedi'.
He died of a heart attack at his home in Texas on Tuesday.
Numerous celebs and former colleagues have been paying tribute to Mayhew, including Harrison Ford aka Han Solo. He told Variety: "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 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.”
George Lucas also released a statement calling Peter a 'wonderful man'. "He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee," he said. "Big heart, gentle nature … and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing."
See some of the tributes via social media below:
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 #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
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. ❤️❤️
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew's passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) May 2, 2019
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 2, 2019
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) May 3, 2019
— Bart Scott (@BartAScott) May 2, 2019
"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."-Kathleen Kennedy.
More: https://t.co/iGfk9XRzKa pic.twitter.com/5edrPrEuRS
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
Star Wars wouldn’t have been the same without Peter Mayhew as the loyal and lovable Chewbacca, and he will always be a favourite for generations of kids & kids at heart. Rest easy, Peter. pic.twitter.com/psEok9fzcq
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 3, 2019
May the Force Be with You, #PeterMayhew! As the King of the Cinematic Sidekicks, your performance helped make my childhood fun! Thank you for bringing Chewbacca to life and for always waving the flag for fandom! We may have let the Wookie win, but YOU won our hearts, sir! pic.twitter.com/B6cpKTKyv2
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) May 3, 2019
I am so very sorry to hear this. My sympathies and love to the family. https://t.co/5WvidAXt4O
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 2, 2019