It’s a sad time for Star Wars fans. Peter Mayhew, a.k.a. the man underneath the Chewbacca suit, died at the age of 74 on Tuesday, April 30.
News of the Dark Tower alum’s passing was shared on his official Twitter account on Thursday, May 2. “The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away,” the statement read. “He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”
Mayhew not only starred in the original Star Wars trilogy, but episode 3 of the film series’ prequel, plus the new trilogy.
Us Weekly reported that the 7-foot-3 star would reprise his role as furry fan favorite for Star Wars: Episode VII alongside Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in April 2014.
According to the family’s statement, it was no easy feat: “He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” it read. “He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed [sic] running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth.”
The statement also expressed the impact the films’ fan base had on Mayhew: “To him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film. The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come.”
The actor is survived by his wife, Angie Mayhew, and their three children.
The family is asking for donations to Mayhew’s foundation, the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which works to support those in crisis situations and children in need.
A private memorial for friends and family will be held on June 29 for the late star, with a public service to take place at Empire Con in L.A. this December.
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