The Star Wars community is currently heartbroken over the death of original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. Those from all over the franchise and fandom are sharing their love for the actor -- including the franchise's creator.
In a statement given to ABC, Star Wars creator George Lucas addressed Mayhew's passing, which was officially announced on Thursday. The statement, which you can check out below, sees Lucas call Mayhew "a wonderful man", with a "big heart [and] gentle nature".
Mayhew passed away from a heart attack on Tuesday, April 30th, in his home in North Texas. He is survived by his wife, Angle, and three children.
Mayhew became a cultural icon throughout his portrayal of Chewbacca throughout the original Star Wars trilogy of films, and came back to reprise his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Due to Mayhew's limited mobility and recent health problems, Joonas Suotamo has since played Chewbacca in subsequent Star Wars films, with Mayhew serving as a consultant, and still a massive part of the Star Wars fandom.
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character." Han Solo actor Harrison Ford told ComicBook.com in a statement. "These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience."
"Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together." Ford added. "He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to it’s continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend..."
“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in ever frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth,” a statement released by Mayhew’s family reads in part. “But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film. The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come.”
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.