Star Wars creator George Lucas and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy are paying tribute to Peter Mayhew, the gentle-giant actor who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy and two later films in the franchise. He died Tuesday at his home in North Texas.
“Peter was a wonderful man,” Lucas said in a statement. “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature — and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend, and I’m saddened by his passing.”
Said Kennedy: “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. When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory.”
The 7-foot-3 Mayhew played the Chewbacca character from 1977-2015, beginning with the original Star Was film and carrying through to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) before he retired from the role.