"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience." said co-star, Harrison Ford.
There are very few actors who consider their characters as more than just roles. These are the actors who think of their co-stars as family and put all their effort into their characters. Peter Mayhew was one such actor, who gave his audience an unforgettable character as the lovable Chewbacca in Star Wars. The actor recently passed away at the age of 74.
Mayhew passed away from a heart attack on April 30, leaving behind his three children and wife, Angie. What he also left behind was a small legacy with his iconic portrayal of the character Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy. And he gave Chewbacca a revival in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
"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."-Kathleen Kennedy. pic.twitter.com/XO2Nypug1d— Star Wars UK (@StarWarsUK) May 3, 2019
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character," said Harrison Ford, who starred alongside Peter Mayhew as Han Solo, told ComicBook.com in a statement. "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 Star Wars fandom loved Peter Mayhew's rendering of the beloved Wookiee throughout the films. Despite his face never being shown in the movies, he still played a vital role in the films and without him the saga would have been incomplete.
He started having issues with his health, but he fought through to come back onscreen once again. "He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens," his family said, as reported by BBC.
His family went on to say, "the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film". With a height of 7 feet 3 inches, Peter Mayhew was the "gentle giant" with an even bigger heart.
"Chewbacca. The name alone conjures feelings of honesty, loyalty, and strength. The best friend you could ever have or want," the Star Wars website states. "That’s all thanks to Peter Mayhew, the man behind the 'walking carpet'. With a tilt of his head, a knowing look, or a warm hug, he gave Chewbacca a soul and captured our hearts. And we are heartbroken to learn that he is gone."
Peter Mayhew went on to set up the Peter Mayhew Foundation, taking on several issues and supporting families through crisis situations. He even provided "food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom," his family added.
They also added, "His kindness, generosity, and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice." To people who might consider buying gifts and flowers in honor of his death, the family asked them to consider donating to his foundation instead.
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
While the news of his death may have saddened people across the world, the actor gave them a number of things to remember and cherish him by. Harrison Ford said, "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..."