Lucasfilm Boss Kathleen Kennedy Praises the "Iconic" Peter Mayhew

Studio head Kathleen Kennedy of Lucasfilm has shared a brief statement about the passing of Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew. Using the official Star Wars Twitter handle, Kennedy released a brief statement mourning the passing of Mayhew, who passed away earlier this week. Check it out in the tweet below. Kennedy said in a statement, "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." Kennedy's comments come amid a flurry of tributes to the late actor from his co-stars and collaborators.

Mayhew, whose poor health led to passing the role of Chewbacca off to Joonas Suotamo after the two performed together in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, passed away on April 30th in his North Texas home, according to a statement from his family. The reported cause of death is a heart attack. Outside of his Star Wars role, Mayhew also founded the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which seeks to alleviate "disease, pain, suffering, and financial toll" brought on by harrowing events. Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angle, and three children, and Angie will reportedly continue to lead the Peter Mayhew Foundation.

“Devastated to hear about the passing of a dear friend and mentor, the great Peter Mayhew,” Suotamo wrote today. “Peter’s warm welcome when I came aboard as his double in The Force Awakens meant so much to me. Studying the character he helped create was always a daunting task, but one that was made easier by his tutelage and kindness as we sought to bring Chewbacca to life for a new generation. He was an absolutely one-of-a-kind gentleman and a legend of unrivaled class and I will miss him.” You can see his full statement in the tweet below.

A memorial service for friends and family is set to be held on June 29th, with a memorial for fans expected to be set up in December at EmpireCon LA.

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