Actor Peter Mayhew, who for a long time donned the costume of giant, hairy alien Star Wars singer Chewbacca, died Tuesday, April 30 at the age of 74 at his home in Texas, his family announced on Thursday. his Twitter account.
Born in London in May 1944, Peter Mayhew climbed to 2.21 meters, which earned him his first film role in 1976 on the filming of Sinbad and the eye of the tiger, in which he played a minotaur.
The following year, he was chosen by George Lucas to play Chewbacca in the first installment of Star Wars and continued to camp the famous Wookie into The Awakening of the Force (2015), before being replaced because of health problems.
“Peter was a great man. He was the closest human being to a Wookie: a big heart, a generous nature … and I learned to always let him win, “ responded in a statement the creator of ” Star Wars “ in a blink of an eye to the allegedly vindictive character of this extra-terrestrial species. “He was a good friend and I am saddened by his passing,”says Lucas.
Peter Mayhew, however, remained a “consultant” to advise his successor as Chewbacca, the Finnish basketball player Joonas Suotamo (2.09m).
“The nicest of the giants”
“He was the nicest of the giants. A great man with an even bigger heart that never failed to make me smile, and a loyal friend whom I loved deeply, “ Mark Hamill, who has worked with him as Luke Skywalker, paid tribute to him on Twitter.
For JJ Abrams, the director of Force Awakens and the next and last installment of the saga, called Skywalker’s Ascension , “Peter was the kindest of men. Gentle and patient, supportive and stimulating. A happiness to work with him. We are already missing a lot . “
The inarticulate grunts that characterize the language of the faithful companion and co-pilot of Han Solo in Star Wars were certainly made by sound engineers. But fans of the saga believe that the expressiveness and the gestures of Peter Mayhew under the imposing disguise (considered to have been made with yak hairs) have contributed much to the success of his character.
“We’ve been movie partners and lifelong friends for over 30 years, and I loved him,”Harrison Ford, smuggler Han Solo in the series, said on the news of his death. Peter Mayhew “breathed his soul into the character” and “Chewbacca played an important role in the success of the films we shot together,” continued the actor. “Like millions of others, I will never forget Peter and what he has given us all , “ writes Harrison Ford in his release.
After his retirement, Peter Mayhew, who had lost a lot of mobility, continued to dedicate himself to fans of the saga and participated in many gatherings around the world. A ceremony to his memory will be organized for his family and friends on June 29, specify his relatives. As for the fans in mourning, they will be able to gather at the beginning of December in Los Angeles during a rally to which his family will participate, with some of the personal effects of the actor.