“I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him.”
Peter Mayhew, who made an immeasurable impact on our world and a galaxy far, far away as the iconic Chewbacca, died at the age of 74 today.
Mayhew first portrayed Chewbacca in 1977 and continued to masterfully take up the role all the way through Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While Joonas Suotamo has now become a Chewbacca for a new age, Mayhew’s influence and impact will always be part of the Star Wars universe and will live on through millions of fans around the world forever.
Many around the internet have begun to share stories and thoughts about the beloved actor, and we’ve made a round up from many who knew and worked with the incomparable Peter Mayhew.
Mark Hamill, who has played Luke Skywalker alongside Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca since A New Hope in 1977, shared his thoughts on Mayhew’s passing and said he was “a better man for just having known him.”
You can’t think of Han Solo without Chewbacca, and Harrison Ford shared with ABC some words about his dear friend and described how they were “partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and [he] loved him.”
“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character,” Ford said. “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,”
“Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to it’s continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend….”
Billy Dee Williams, as Lando Calrissian, worked alongside Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca to help save that galaxy far, far away. In Williams own words, he was “much more than Chewie to me.”
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars who learned to “always let [Mayhew] win,” shared some thoughts on the passing of the beloved actor.
“Peter was a wonderful man,” Lucas said in a statement to ABC. “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.”
Joonas Suotamo, who now has the distinct honor of suiting up as Chewbacca in the new Star Wars films, assures all that Mayhew’s “legacy will live on and the spirit that he gave the character when he first donned the suit will never be forgotten.”
Rian Johnson, who worked with Peter Mayhew on The Last Jedi as he was a “Chewbacca Consultant” while Suotamo portrayed the actual Wookie, commended Mayhew on being a true legend by creating such a beloved character “under a half ton of yak hair.”
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy took to the Star Wars Twitter account to say how integral Peter Mayhew and his portrayal of the iconic Wookie was to the Star Wars saga itself.
Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., praised the “gentle giant playing a gentle giant” and spoke on behalf of the entire company by sharing his love for Mayhew.
Peter Mayhew’s influence and impact spread all across the galaxy, even to Star Trek’s James T. Kirk, as William Shatner fondly remembered their tweet conversations and run-ins at conventions.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN who can’t thank Peter Mayhew for all he has done for him and millions others around the world. Rest in Peace. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst.