SALT LAKE CITY — Peter Mayhew, the man best known for his role as the lovable Wookiee Chewbacca in "Star Wars," has died at the age of 74.
Mayhew passed away at his home in Texas Tuesday with his family by his side, according to a statement released by the Mayhew family.
Mayhew played Han Solo’s Wookiee companion in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, returning to the role in “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005 and “The Force Awakens” in 2015.
"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films," the Mayhew family’s statement reads. "But, to him, the 'Star Wars' family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."
Mayhew’s "Star Wars" family is mourning his death and paying tribute to him following the announcement of his passing.
Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo alongside Mayhew’s Chewbacca, released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter following Mayhew’s death.
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character," Ford said. "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."
Ford added, “Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to its 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."
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, 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."
“He was the gentlest of giants,” Mark Hamill tweeted Thursday. “A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly. I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him."
Billy Dee Williams tweeted, “Much more than Chewie to me...My heart hurts…I will miss you my dear friend…thanks for the great memories!”
Joonas Suotamo took the mantle from Mayhew to play Chewie in “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker” and acted as his double in “The Force Awakens.”
“Peter’s warm welcome when I came aboard as his double in ‘The Force Awakens’ meant so much to me,” Suotamo said in a statement. “He was an absolutely one-of-kind gentleman and a legend of unrivaled class and I will miss him.”
John Boyega wrote on Instagram, “The happiness you brought to my life through Chewbacca was always enough but to meet you and experience your amazing heart was even better. Rest in peace Pete.”
J.J. Abrams shared a note he wrote about Mayhew on social media. It reads, “Peter was the loveliest man... Kind and patient, supportive and encouraging. A sweetheart to work with and already deeply missed.”
Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” said, “RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend.”
“We’ve lost a friend and#StarWars legend. The mighty#PeterMayhew brought such warmth, humour and humility to the beloved character of#Chewbacca,” said Warwick Davis, who played Wicket the Ewok in “Return of the Jedi” and held other roles throughout the films.
"Peter was a wonderful man," George Lucas said in a statement to E! News. "He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature…and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I'm saddened by his passing."