Peter Mayhew, Star Wars’ Chewbacca, Dies at 74
Another member of the original Star Wars cast has died. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca from the first Star Wars in 1977 through Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 passed away on Tuesday evening. He was 74 years old. His family announced the news via Twitter:
Mayhew was working in a hospital in England when was discovered in 1976, and cast as a Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Soon after, George Lucas, on the hunt for a tall man to play the role of Han Solo’s furry co-pilot, cast him as Chewbacca in the first Star Wars. Thanks in large part to Mayhew’s energetic performance, the alien known as “Chewie” became one of the franchise’s most beloved characters.
Mayhew returned as Chewbacca in both of the original Star Wars sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and then in Episode III — Attack of the Clones. For The Force Awakens, declining health required him to share the role with Joonas Suotamo, who fully took over Chewie duties for The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Mayhew was credited on that film as “Chewbacca Consultant” on The Last Jedi.)
Suotamo plays Chewbacca in the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, but Mayhew’s original performance continues to delight generations of audiences on home video. As one of the original cast of Star Wars, he will forever be a part of one of the most important and beloved movies of all time. He won’t be forgotten.
Gallery — Every Star Wars Movie, Ranked From Worst to First: