Star Wars’ Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Has Died
Peter Mayhew, the man who played the iconic Star Wars Wookiee Chewbacca, has died, according to a family statement.
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
- Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
The statement said: "He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running. Firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth.
"But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.
While it's devastating for anyone to die on any day, the fact he died a day from the international Star Wars day of May the Fourth is particularly heartbreaking.
The way he got the iconic role is a pretty hilarious story. Because he didn't have to actually do the Wookiee voice, Mayhew's primary job was just to be able to fit into the Chewbacca suit - something he should be able to do with ease.
During a fan convention in 2013, he said: "In George's office, he had a sofa. So I sat down on the sofa waiting for him to come in through the door.
"He and [producer] Gary Kurtz walked in. I did the natural thing, I stood up. Basically, that was the interview. He turned to Gary and said, 'I think we've found him.'"
He played Chewbacca for the original trilogy, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens however he handed the baton over to someone else for The Last Jedi.
Finnish-born basketball player-turned-actor Joonas Suotamo was the man charged with that responsibility, who had some really kind words about his predecessor.
"Chewbacca is one of the most iconic characters in the history of film, and Peter's development and portrayal of this beloved Wookiee has spread so much joy around the globe," he wrote after getting the role.
"Peter's guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love."
A memorial service for the 7ft 3inch actor will be held next month.
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox