Peter William Mayhew (19 May 1944 – 30 April 2019)

Chewy’s Last Roar


April 30th was a sad day for us Star Wars fans as we learn of the passing of Peter Mayhew, who portrayed Chewbacca the original co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Peter was the true gentle giant stood at 7 feet 3 inches tall. Mayhew died of a heart attack on 30 April 2019 at his home in Boyd, Texas, He was 74 years old.


When casting his first Star Wars film, creator George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the hairy alien Chewbacca. He originally had in mind 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) bodybuilder David Prowse, but Prowse chose to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search in which he discovered Mayhew, who was working as an orderly in the radiology department of King’s College HospitalLondon,[8] and said that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.[citation needed]

Mayhew has played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films: the original trilogy (Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[9] He played the role in the 1978 television film Star Wars Holiday Special and in a 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show. He also recorded dialogue for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 finale episode “Wookiee Hunt”.[10][11]

Mayhew played the role in commercials and hospital appearances for sick children, and made numerous appearances as Chewbacca outside the Star Wars films. Mayhew, appearing as Chewbacca, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Film Awards 1997.[12] He was additionally honoured at the release of the new PlayStation Portable where he dressed as Chewbacca and held up the new PSP slim version.[13]

He also made other media appearances outside of playing Chewbacca. He appeared on NBC‘s Identity, where his identity was based on the fact that he played Chewbacca and was a frequent guest in the early days of Slice of SciFi.[14]

While Mayhew portrayed Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was not in Star Wars: The Last Jedi but was listed in the credits as ‘Chewbacca Consultant’.[15] Mayhew retired from playing Chewbacca due to health issues. Joonas Suotamo shared the portrayal of Chewbacca with Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then replaced him in subsequent Star Wars films.[16][17] 


MY Audio and Video Tribute Compilation:



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.”

Actor Harrison Ford, who performed side-by-side with Mayhew for many of the films, said Mayhew “invested his soul in the character and brought pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”

“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,” Ford said in a statement.

“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 it’s 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….” the statement continued.

Mayhew starred as Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, one of the prequels and more.

“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.” “Star Wars” creator George Lucas said in a statement.

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.”


Peter Mayhew


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The Hollywood Reporter:

Ford, Mayhew, Hamill – The best pilots in the galaxy


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