Harrison Ford has released a heartwarming tribute to his late friend Peter Mayhew. The Chewbacca actor passed away earlier this week at the age of 74 and Star Wars fans from around the world have been posting tributes on social media, remembering the work he did in bringing the Wookiee to life on the big screen for all of these years. In addition, Mayhew's colleagues have been posting tributes, including Mark Hamill, Joonas Suotamo, and Rian Johnson.
There's only a handful of cinematic duos who match the level of Han Solo and Chewbacca. They have been legends for over 40 years now, and seeing them work together again in 2015's The Force Awakens was a big deal. Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew started out together in 1977's A New Hope and they struck a bond immediately. Harrison Ford had this to say.
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. 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."
Harrison Ford brings up the fact that Peter Mayhew brought his soul into the character of Chewbacca. This echoes the same sentiment the actor's family talked about in the way they could always tell that it was Mayhew behind the mask by the way he ran or by the way he even held the bowcaster. Mayhew was Chewbacca and he brought everything we know and love about the character to life. Ford explains.
"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..."
Mark Hamill said Peter Mayhew, "was the gentlest of giants- A big man with an even bigger heart," before talking about how he could always make the Luke Skywalker actor smile. Hamill went on to say he is a "better man" for having known Mayhew. Joonas Suotamo, who took over for Mayhew as Chewbacca in the latest trilogy, was devastated by the news of the actor's death and called him a "one-of-a-kind gentleman." The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson had this to say.
"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."
Peter Mayhew is going to be missed by his friends and family, along with millions of Star Wars fans from around the world. The actor always took a second to take a photo with fans while answering questions and all with a huge smile. Luckily, he was able to conquer his physical ailments to pass the essence of Chewbacca down to Joonas Suotamo, who will keep the iconic character alive in Mayhew's memory. Harrison Ford's tribute to Peter Mayhew was first published by The Hollywood Reporter.
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. ❤️❤️— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
He was the gentlest of giants-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. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew#Heartbroken@TheWookieeRoarspic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019