We are sad to report the passing of Peter Mayhew on April 30th. A memorial service for friends and family will occur on June 29th, while a larger ceremony for fans will take place in December. Mayhew, best known for his portrayal of the wookiee Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga, was seventy-four years old.
At 7’3″, Mayhew was a natural pick for the giant wookiee, but his legacy came from the warmth and kindness he showed his coworkers, friends, and fans all over the world. Mayhew played Chewie through the original Star Wars films, the prequels, and then in 2015 for the start of a new trilogy in The Force Awakens. (He had gone through knee replacement surgery before filming, but worked tirelessly through his physical therapy to be able to play the part one last time.) By The Last Jedi, Mayhew elected to serve as a consultant on the role, and passed all of his wisdom on to Joonas Suotamo, who will also play the part in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. Here is what Suotamo and Mark Hamill had to say:
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
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
A statement from his on-screen partner Harrison Ford reads, “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.”
The London-born actor was an advocate of non-profits, and started his own foundation, which provided aid and food to families and children in crisis. A longtime supporter of the Star Wars fan community, Mayhew could always be found on the convention circuit, where he would often walk about using a lightsaber as his cane.
Peter Mayhew died at home in Texas, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Angie, and three children. He will be deeply missed the galaxy over.