Veteran actor Peter Mayhew, better known to the world as the man who brought Star Wars’ Chewbacca to life, has passed away today.
Peter Mayhew’s family announced a short time ago that the man who was the soul of one of film’s most iconic characters passed away at his home in Texas. The family said that Mayhew was surrounded by loved ones, although they did not release a cause of death.
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
Fellow Star Wars cast member Mark Hamill released his own statement on Twitter on Mayhew’s passing.
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
Peter Mayhew was 74 years old. He is survived by his wife and three children.
The 7 foot 3 inches Mayhew had suffered from Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that allowed him to grow to his staggering height. Mayhew continued to suffer numerous health problems throughout the years, and eventually underwent double knee surgery in 2013.
Although Mayhew reprised Chewbacca’s role when The Force Awakens began filming in 2014, his health problems meant that his scenes had to be split with a double-Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo. Mayhew was forced to retire by the time The Last Jedi began filming, and Suotamo transitioned to playing Chewbacca full time.
Although Peter Mayhew was born in London, he became a naturalized US citizen in 2005.
After the ceremony Mayhew joked, “I’ll have a British passport, an American passport and a Wookiee passport.”
Peter Mayhew brought life and soul to one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in all of film. People across the world grew up watching Chewbacca adventure with Han, Luke and Leia.
The loss of Peter Mayhew will be felt just as keenly as that of Carrie Fisher. May he rest in peace.