Peter Mayhew, known best to the world as the lovable (if not violent) Wookie Chewbacca, has passed away, after suffering from a heart attack at age 74. The actor had a history of medical issues, undergoing a double knee surgery in 2013, suffering through a bout of pneumonia in 2015, and spinal surgery in 2018. Mayhew played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, in addition to a small role in the third prequel Revenge of the Sith. Mayhew would return to the role in 2015’s The Force Awakens, sharing the role with newcomer Joonas Suotamo, who would take over the role for The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker.
Mayhew’s friends and co-stars took to social media to pay tribute.
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
Harrison Ford on the death of his friend, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew: pic.twitter.com/DvVZYICwZ9
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 3, 2019
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) May 3, 2019
— ABC News (@ABC) May 2, 2019
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend. ❤️❤️
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019