Peter Mayhew Dies: Chewbacca in ‘Star Wars’ Films, was 74

British actor Peter Mayhew, famous for portraying Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga, has passed away at the age of 74. His family announced the sad news on Twitter, stating that he passed away on April 30 in his North Texas home. Mayhew’s legacy as a beloved film icon will continue to inspire fans around the world.

Peter Mayhew, who was born in the picturesque county of Surrey in England, portrayed the beloved character of Chewbacca throughout the Star Wars franchise, starting from the first film in 1977 to the seventh installment, titled Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Despite receiving praise from millions of fans and successfully entertaining them with his challenging role, Mayhew never revealed his true face on screen. He retired from the role in 2015 after a remarkable 38 years.

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In handing off the Yeti-like role from the iconic Chewbacca, actor Peter Mayhew passed the torch to Finnish upstart Joonas Suotamo. As a former Penn State University basketball player born four years after the original trilogy drew to a close, Suotamo brought a fresh energy and perspective to one of the most beloved franchises in cinema history. Experience the new era of Star Wars in The Last Jedi.

At a towering height of 7-foot-3, Mr. Mayhew donned a shaggy suit to bring to life Chewbacca – the endearing yet intimidating Wookiee – who served as Han Solo’s trusted partner and co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon spacecraft.

This notable actor graced the screen in every film of the iconic “Star Wars” trilogy, in addition to his appearances in “Revenge of the Sith” (2005) and “The Force Awakens” (2015).

Peter Mayhew’s acting career started with an uncredited role as a malevolent minotaur in the 1976 film, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He was discovered by the producers through a newspaper photo of him accompanying a feature article about men with unusually large feet. The tall Brit, who stands at 7-foot-3, needed every bit of his large feet to support his frame, giving him a two-inch height advantage over NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.

“Peter was an excellent man. He had a great heart and a loving demeanour, which made him as close to a Wookiee as any human could be. I also discovered to always let him triumph. I’m heartbroken by his demise because he was a good friend of mine, Lucas said in a statement.

The kindest of giants, he was. A strong, kind friend who I cherished, a huge man with an even greater heart who never failed to put a smile on my face. I’m thankful for the moments we created together, and just knowing him has made me a better man. Thank you, Pete,” tweeted Hamill on Thursday.

Actor Harrison Ford, known for his role as Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise alongside Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca, offered his condolences in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Peter Mayhew was a kind and considerate person with a high sense of dignity and moral character. In addition to his wit and grace, he brought these facets of his own personality to Chewbacca, according to Ford’s statement. For more than 30 years, we were friends in real life as well as film colleagues, and I loved him. He gave the part his all, much to the delight of the Star Wars audience. The success of the films we did together owed a lot to Chewbacca. He was loyal to the franchise’s followers because he understood how crucial they were to its continued success. We all will never forget what Peter contributed to us, including myself and countless others. 

In many ways, Peter was larger than life. assuming the role of a gentle giant. Disney CEO Bob Iger wished for peace on Twitter.

“We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. The success of Chewbacca and the Star Wars story as a whole has been largely attributed to Peter Cushing’s legendary portrayal of the devoted, endearing character since 1976. During The Force Awakens, when I first met Peter, I was struck by how polite and nice he was. Peter was a master at using gesture, posture, and eyes to expressively convey his personality. Peter is to be thanked for that enduring memory of Chewie, which we all share.

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