The Star Wars community has been in mourning since learning about the loss of legendary Chewbacca actor, Peter Mayhew. The man behind the Wookiee passed away at 74 on April 30th, and fans and fellow actors alike have been honoring the actor in various ways. The latest in a long line of tributes comes from Joonas Suotamo, the actor who took over the role of Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Suotamo wrote a touching Facebook post after Mayhew's death, and has since expanded his words into a piece for Time.
"Peter created something that we will always remember.," Suotamo wrote.
The actor talked about how Mayhew embodied his iconic character, and how that helped Suotamo immensely when stepping into the role.
"What I came to realize over time is how much Peter put his own personality into Chewbacca. Peter wasn't a professional actor; he was playing that character as himself in a way. As soon as I realized that, I realized what I needed to do. Just watching him speak about this character and being himself, every second was a worthy lesson, and I will always treasure that."
Suotamo went on to explain how kind and supportive his mentor had been.
"After the Solo premiere, he said that my performance was as good as it ever could be. That meant so much to me, because he had been so supportive. I knew that it was bittersweet for him to let go of the role, but I assured him that all I ever do is honor his performance and Chewbacca himself, which is honoring Peter, too."
Suotamo added, "Peter was a unique person, too — and not just physically. You can see that in his charity work, and the way he met with fans and carried the mantle of Chewbacca. He loved the fans so much, especially the 501st Legion, which does such great work with children. It's a beautiful thing to see the legacy that Peter left behind, and I hope to contribute to that. I'll always remember where Chewbacca got his start, and how much he means to people."
You can read the full article here.
A memorial service for friends and family of Mayhew is set to be held on June 29th, with a memorial for fans expected to occur in December at EmpireCon LA.
Suotamo will be reprising the role of Chewbacca in the upcoming film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is expected to hit theaters on December 20th.
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