Peter Mayhew, the man who not only inhabited the costume of the mighty Chewbacca but became his heart and soul, has passed away. He was 74 years old.
Our friends at the Kurtz Joiner Archive have released this statement.
Peter was a real gentle giant and a very quiet, shy and beautiful person! A one-off! The Chewbacca role was more Peter playing himself on screen and the question of how much of Peter is Chewie and how much of Chewie is Peter will never be worked out as they really were one and the same.
Peter loved playing Chewbacca as he could put away his shyness and become a roaring Wookiee when he needed to be. Meeting fans and especially the children that were into Star Wars and seeing the magic in their eyes when they got to meet Peter was something that drove him to attend public events and Comic Cons, which he continued to do up until last week.
As time went on Peter was finding it harder to take on the filming commitments of Chewbacca and even though you could never replace Peter he saw Chewie live in the way that actor Ian Whyte played the character as Peter’s Stunt Double in The Force Awakens. Ian cared about how Peter portrayed Chewie and understood that Chewie was Peter and so he watched him and learned to become Peter as Chewie. Peter felt that the character was safe for future generations of Star Wars fans with Ian’s insight and care.
At 74 Peter lived to a great age for someone of his stature and this was down to the people that loved and helped him so much day to day as he grew older. Peter married his wife Angie in 1999 and from that time Peter has had a partner in life that he could share his amazing adventures and travel with. Later on Katie and Ryan, his children, also helped to enable Peter to keep on the road and attend the events he so loved to visit.
In 2016 Peter set up The Peter Mayhew Foundation, a non-profit organisation devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering and the financial toll brought on by lives traumatic events. By providing its available resources directly to deserving children and adults in need, the foundation assist numerous charitable organisations in order to promote and boost their effectiveness and provide support where needed.
On a personal note Peter was a wonderful and kind-hearted friend. When I was with him last month at The London Film and Comic Con I could see he was struggling and in some pain which was sad to see. However, I could also see the energy he received from being at the event and meeting all his fans! He was a very dear friend and ever since he attended his very first convention in the UK with us and he has been very close to us all here.
Please take a look at the wonderful work Peter and his family are doing to help others.
If you feel like saying goodbye to Peter then please don’t buy flowers or gifts but instead make a difference and donate something and go here:
The last roar of this Wookiee will echo around the galaxy forever!
Goodbye old friend.
We can’t believe we’re not going to see him at another convention, like many of us did at Celebration Chicago just last month. The entire team at Fantha Tracks wish to pass on our sincerest condolences to Peter’s family, friends and colleagues.