(ABC News) – Peter Mayhew, the actor best known for playing Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films has passed away at the age of 74, his family said.
In a statement posted on the actor’s Twitter page, the family said Mayhew died on April 30, 2019, “with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”
As a more complete statement from the family explains, Mayhew starred as Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, one of the prequels and more.
Eventually, the icon gave way to Joonas Suotamo, who has carried on the legacy Mayhew started more than 40 years ago. Suotamo has consistently thanked Mayhew for making Chewie a beloved household name among fans of the franchise and beyond.
Last year, the Finnish actor spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the advice his mentor gave him before taking over for “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
“We had a week-long Wookiee boot camp where Peter taught me what he thought was very important for the character,” he said. “That was so helpful, because we got to go over the flailing of the arms and the upright posture. The thing that stuck to me most was he told me to lead with the chest when walking. That was a very important thing for Peter. Because Chewbacca is a very proud creature.”
“He put his heart and soul into the role,” his family added. “It showed in every frame of the films … the ‘Star Wars’ family meant so much more to him than a role in the films.”
This was never more evident than when Mayhew and the rest of the cast lost Carrie Fisher in 2016.
He cherished working with his dear friend one last time in 2015’s “The Force Awakens.”
“She brought her character back, and in the last one, she was an older person. Therefore, she was wiser,” he told ABC News affiliate WFAA. “She was a person that was a true princess.”
For three decades Mayhew traveled the convention circuit, loving every second of every encounter with fans and castmates, Thursday’s full family statement continued.
“He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved,” the statement closed.
Memorial plans are set for June 29 and there will be a memorial planned later this year in Los Angeles for the fans.
The actor is survived by his wife Angie and their three children.