Peter Mayhew Tributes

Yesterday brought the sad news that legendary Star Wars performer Peter Mayhew, the man who brought the Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to life, had passed away earlier this week. While fans are mourning the loss of one of the sweetest giants Hollywood has ever know, those who knew him best expressed kind words to honor their late friend. Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, J.J. Abrams and more all chimed in with their own Peter Mayhew tributes.

First of all, everyone has wanted to hear from Harrison Ford after the passing of Peter Mayhew. The two actors were side-by-side throughout most of the original Star Wars trilogy and the huge return of the saga in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. In fact, the moment shared between them when Harrison Ford says, “Chewie, we’re home,” followed by a passionate Wookiee roar, brought tears to the eyes of many fans when the trailer debuted. Here’s what Ford had to say about his friend and co-pilot (via 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. 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….”

Indeed, Peter Mayhew was always grateful and excited about the love shown to Chewbacca over the years. Star Wars is one of those franchises where even the actors whose faces you don’t see on screen became celebrities, and Mayhew was easily one of the most beloved. Without Mayhew, Chewbacca isn’t nearly as loveable. Star Wars creator George Lucas echoed those sentiments in a statement (via Deadline):

“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.”

Current Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also offered up kinds words for Peter Mayhew as well:

“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.”

Other tributes arrived through social media, including this heartfelt post from Mark Hamill:

Fellow original trilogy star and The Rise of Skywalker cast member Billy Dee Williams also honored Mayhew:

And finally, the last two directors to work with Peter Mayhew offered up their warm affections for the man:

At Star Wars Celebration last month, I was fortunate enough to have a run-in with Peter Mayhew in the lobby of my hotel. He was headed up to his room, and he had come right next to me on the scooter which frequently got him where he needed to go. I quietly leaned in to introduce myself, and he couldn’t have been more kind or receptive. After doing this for decades, you’d think adoring fans might become a bit of a nuisance, especially when you start getting up there in the years, but Mayhew took it all with a smile.

Peter Mayhew will be missed, but his legacy lives on in the guidance he gave to Joonas Suotamo, the new Chewbacca:

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Devastated to hear about the passing of a dear friend and mentor, the great Peter Mayhew. Peter's warm welcome when I came aboard as his double in The Force Awakens meant so much to me. Studying the character he helped create was always a daunting task, but one that was made easier by his tutelage and kindness as we sought to bring Chewbacca to life for a new generation. He was an absolutely one-of-kind gentleman and a legend of unrivaled class and I will miss him. As the entire Star Wars universe grieves over this terrible loss my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Angie and his family and all of the fans whose lives he has impacted. Rest assured his legacy will live on and the spirit that he gave the character when he first donned the suit will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace My Friend. . . . #RipPeterMayhew

A post shared by Joonas Suotamo (@joonassuotamo) on

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