Harrison Ford pens heartfelt tribute to 'dear friend' Peter Mayhew
Yesterday, Star Wars fans were devastated to hear Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew had died at 74.
The star, who passed away on April 30 in his North Texas home with his family by his side, was an integral part of the epic space series and will be missed by millions.
One person who knew him better than most though is his co-star and friend Harrison Ford, who has written a moving tribute that names Mayhew his partner "in film and friend in life for over 30 years".
In an emotional statement, the 76-year-old, who played Han Solo, wrote: "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 continued to open up about the importance of the actor's character in the iconic movie franchise, stating:
"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 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…."
Witness the magic of Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew's onscreen chemistry here:
Ford is certainly not the only person to herald Mayhew, with tributes flooding in on social media. Fellow Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill said he counted himself as a "better man" for knowing the Chewbacca star, who stood seven feet, three inches tall.
"He was the gentlest of giants," he wrote on Twitter. "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".
Star Wars creator George Lucas also released a statement that spoke of Mayhew's "big heart". It read: "Peter was a wonderful man. 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."
The president of Lucasfilm, the company that created and produced Star Wars, Kathleen Kennedy added: "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.
"When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture, and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory."
In their statement, Mayhew's family said the 74-year-old put his "heart and soul" into his iconic role and noted the challenges he faced to take part in 2015's The Force Awakens.
"He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more," they wrote, adding that he "consulted" on 2017's The Last Jedi.
They continued: "[He] put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock-kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth. But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."
Rest in peace, Peter.