Peter Mayhew, the actor best known for portraying Wookiee hero Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died. He was 74.

In a statement, Mayhew’s family said the man behind one of science fiction’s most memorable champions died on April 30, surrounded by loved ones in his Texas home.

Mayhew “put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films,” the statement said.

The English-born actor made his first appearance in the Star Wars universe in the series’ 1977 debut. He would go on to feature in its two immediate sequels, along with 2005’s The Revenge Of The Sith, and 2015’s The Force Awakens. 

“He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound” to appear in The Force Awakens alongside longtime cast mate Harrison Ford, his family said.

He also acted as a consultant on 2017’s The Last Jedi and the Solo stand-alone flick, helping newcomer Joonas Suotamo take over official Wookiee duties.

In addition to his work on Star Wars, he undertook a slew of guest TV appearances, including one episode of Glee.

Mayhew, who grew to be nearly 220cm tall, also wrote two books focussed on giants.

R.I.P.

Image: Jordan Strauss / AP