Tributes have been pouring in from fans and celebrities alike after actor Peter Mayhew passed away aged 74.
The star is best known for his role as Chewbacca in the Star Wars film franchise, with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and George Lucas all releasing emotional statements.
The actor's Twitter page posted a message confirming the heartbreaking news yesterday afternoon:
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
It reads: “The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”
Mayhew was over seven feet tall, making him perfect for the role of the charming Wookiee in the original George Lucas film in 1997.
He reprised the role in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, before passing the mantle on to Joonas Suotamo, who played Chewie in Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Last Jedi and the forthcoming The Rise of Skywalker.
Harrison Ford gave a moving statement to Variety, calling the actor "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," he said. "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 it’s continued success and he was devoted to them," he continued.
Star Wars creator and founder of Lucasfilm Goerge Lucas also commented on the loss;
"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.”
"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."-Kathleen Kennedy.
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, also paid his respects, calling Mayhew a "big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile."
Mayhew leaves behind the legacy of the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which provides aid for families in crisis.
Feature image: Instagram/@neandr