The actor who played the Star Wars character Chewbacca has died at the age of 74.
Peter Mayhew died surrounded by loved ones in his north Texas home, according to a statement from his family.
The actor portrayed fan-favourite Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy as well as in Episode 3 of the prequels and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In the statement, the family said he “fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and return for the new trilogy.
Mayhew was born with a condition called gigantism and had double knee-replacement surgery in 2013.
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. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films – from his knock-kneed ruining, firing his bowcaster from the hip to his bright blue eyes and down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth,” they wrote.
They said he spent more than 30 years travelling the world and spending time with his fans and friends and was heavily involved in charitable work.
“To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom,” he wrote.
“He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.”
He is survived by his wife, Angie Mayhew, and their three children.
Angie will take control of his foundation, where his "kindness, generosity and care will live on", the family said.
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 (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, described Mayhew as the "gentlest of giants."
On social media, he added: "A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile and a loyal friend who I loved dearly - I'm grateful for the memories we shared and I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete."
A memorial service with friends and family will be held on June 29th and there will be a public memorial in early December in Los Angeles.
Harrison Ford, who played Chewbacca’s long-time partner Han Solo, said: “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 for life over 30 years and I loved him.
“I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all.
“Rest easy, my dear friend.”