Star Wars: Mark Hamill Comments on Death of Chewbacca Star Peter Mayhew

Mark Hamill paid tribute to Star Wars co-star Peter Mayhew after it was learned Thursday the original Chewbacca actor died April 30 aged 74.

“He was the gentlest of giants- A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly,” Hamill tweeted. “I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken.”

Hamill first starred opposite Mayhew in George Lucas’ saga-launching Star Wars in 1977, where Mayhew brought to life the roaring Wookie co-pilot of smuggler pirate Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Mayhew performed the role again in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and again in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, then the end of the six-episode saga.

Mayhew filled the furred suit a final time in 2015’s franchise revival The Force Awakens, where he shared the role with double Joonas Suotamo, who fully succeeded Mayhew in the role in 2017’s The Last Jedi. Suotamo has since reprised the role for young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story and the coming Rise of Skywalker.

In-between his time on the films, Mayhew starred as Chewbacca in television’s Star Wars Holiday Special and appeared in a 1980 episode of The Muppet Show and the ride-show portion of the original Disneyland Star Tours attraction.

Hamill and Mayhew reunited briefly on Last Jedi, where a reclusive Luke, cut off from the all encompassing Force, learned best friend Han was struck down by twisted son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) when Chewbacca and budding Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracked Luke to the planet of Ahch-To.

In March, Hamill lamented the lack of a reunion scene between Luke and best friend Han. In April, Hamill shared to Twitter an edited photo showing the older Luke, Han, Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Lando (Billy Dee Williams) aboard the Millennium Falcon, adding the hashtag “missed opportunities.”

“I just thought, Luke’s never going to see his best friend again. You look at it in a self-centered way,” Hamill previously told Den of Geek.

“I said that it was a big mistake that those three people would never reunite in any way. I guess I was wrong, because nobody seems to care! I have to stipulate that I care, but it didn’t really seem to affect the larger audience. Luke, Han, and Leia will never be together again, and I’ll probably never get to work with Harrison again.”

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