Following the news that long-time Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew passed away at the age of 74, social media was flooded with remembrance and praise of the beloved actor, who'd been a staple in the Star Wars saga since the very beginning.
Mayhew first took on the role of Chewie for the first Star Wars film in 1977, and later reprised the role for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and most recently Star Wars: The First Awakens. Following his bow as the wookiee in 2015, he passed the role over to Joonas Suotamo for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story while containing to work as a "Chewbacca Consultant" for the films.
In a statement about his passing, Mayhew's family wrote on Twitter that "Star Wars meant so much more to him than a role in a film."
Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, told The Hollywood Reporter: "Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. 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," Ford continued. "He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to its 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.... "
Read some of the other touching tributes below:
"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.— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
More: https://t.co/iGfk9XRzKa pic.twitter.com/5edrPrEuRS
Harrison Ford on the death of his friend, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew: pic.twitter.com/DvVZYICwZ9— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 3, 2019
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
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
Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew's passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) May 2, 2019
Chewie was one cool copilot. Thank you, Peter Mayhew... and Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/CbACo2iukk— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) May 3, 2019
Just heard about Peter Mayhew. Wonderful man. One of my favorite memories was him generously explaining to our Clone Wars animation team what's at the heart of Chewie, to inspire the artists so that Peter's spirit still inhabited his animated form. He will be missed.— Pablo Hidalgo saw JAWS (@pablohidalgo) May 2, 2019
We had the honor of meeting Peter Mayhew at Star Wars Celebration last month. Today we thank him for making Star Wars feel like home for many fans. Rest in peace, Mr. Mayhew. pic.twitter.com/dpCDbaCR0c— Funko (@OriginalFunko) May 2, 2019
Peter Mayhew created one of the greatest film characters of all time. Chewbacca was funny, courageous, and caring. He did it all without the benefit of speech, just that vocal growly cry that 1 in 100 fans can do real well when they're drunk. He was always really nice to me.#RIP— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) May 3, 2019