May the force be with Peter Mayhew, who passed away at the age of 74 on Tuesday evening, his family shared.
"The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home," his family's statement read.
The Star Wars actor famously played Chewbacca alongside Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and more. Fans of the franchise knew Mayhew as "Chewie," who he played from 1977 up until 2015. He was the man behind the iconic character in the original movies, as well as the prequels and new trilogy. In the more recent films, Joonas Suotamo has taken over the role.
Of his famous role, his family stated, "He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca, and it showed in every 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."
The statement continued, "But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."
Many of his cast members and fans have shared their condolences.
"Peter was a wonderful man," George Lucas told E! News in a written statement. "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."
Hamill took to social media, and wrote, "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."
"Much more than Chewie to me...My heart hurts…I will miss you my dear friend…thanks for the great memories," Billy Dee Williams tweeted.
Furthermore, Ford, who was Chewie's bestie in the franchise, sent a statement to E! News about the late actor.
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character," he stated. "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."
The statement continued, "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…."
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 @TheWookieeRoars pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2— Mark Hamill (@MarkHamill) May 2, 2019
Additionally, Mayhew's successor, Joonas, tweeted an in-depth statement online. "Devastated to hear about the passing of a dear friend and mentor," he began. "Peter's warm welcome when I came aboard as his double in The Force Awakens meant so much to me."
The Star Wars account took to Instagram and shared a statement from Kathleen Kennedy.
"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."-Kathleen Kennedy. Lucasfilm remembers Peter Mayhew."
Elijah Wood also posted about the late Star Wars star. "Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew's passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you," he tweeted.
"Another Star Wars icon that will no longer be with us and surely missed as much as the rest. RIP," Marilyn Ghigliotti shared.
Stefan Brogren also posted, "2 years ago I made eye contact with Peter Mayhew backstage at Niagara Comicon. Was too shy and in awe to say anything reasonable. Rest in peace, big man."
Ahead of May 4, which many Star Wars fans have dubbed "May the Fourth" in honor of the franchise's iconic phrase "May the Force," Peter was expected to appear at the Fan Expo Dallas tomorrow and throughout the weekend.
Our thoughts are with Peter's family and friends during this difficult time.