Billy Dee Williams, who plays the role of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars "Skywalker Saga," has posted a brief note to social media to express his sorrow over the passing of his "dear friend" Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in most of those films. The actor, who will return to the role for the first time in live action since Return of the Jedi for this winter's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, also shared some images of the two on set together.
In the message, Williams said that Mayhew was "Much more than Chewie to me," and that "My heart hurts…I will miss you, my dear friend…thanks for the great memories!" You can see Williams's statement and the handful of photos that he shared with it in the tweet below.
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.
“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.
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.
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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