Earlier today, we sadly learned of the passing of Peter Mayhew, the original Chewbacca actor from the very first Star Wars film in 1977, who played the lovable Wookiee all the way up through 2015's The Force Awakens.
As should be expected, co-stars, friends, and fans alike are taking to social media to share their favorite memories and stories of the famed actor, and celebrate his life and legacy. We're collecting some of the outpourings of love and affection for a man whose spirit and kindness were larger than life.
Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill shared a series of photos on Twitter and called Mayew "the gentlest of giants" in a touching post.
Chewie without Han Solo is like bread without butter. Harrison Ford, the actor who shared both screen and cockpit with Mayhew, released (via ComicBook.com) a heartfelt statement regarding the actor's passing:
“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. 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..."
In a statement shared with ABC News, Star Wars creator George Lucas said, “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 Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role of Chewbacca from Mayhew during The Force Awakens, also shared his condolences. Suotamo, who has spoken emphatically about what it was like to work with Mayhew in the past, posted a note on Twitter, saying he is "devastated to hear about the passing of a dear friend and mentor."
Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, also took to Twitter to share his condolences. He echoed the sentiments of Mayhew's former co-stars, calling him "a gentle giant playing a gentle giant."
On the official Star Wars website, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy released the following statement: “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. 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.”
Others in the Star Wars galaxy shared their memories as well ...
Of course, Mayhew's work affected not just those working on the films, but those writing about them and viewing them. Writer Anthony Breznica shared a touching anecdote about meeting Mayhew in 2015, saying, "Chewbacca's warmth did not come from the fur" — an obvious reference to Mayhew's legendary generosity and spirit.
Actor Noah Segan (Looper) shared this lovely story about meeting Mr. Mayhew.
Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. They ask that in lieu of gifts, those interested should donate to Peter's non-profit foundation, which helps ease pain, suffering, and disease following traumatic life events.
What's your favorite memory of Mayhew and his Chewbacca performances? Let us know in the comments!