Farewell, Peter Mayhew

A gentle giant and star of the Star Wars saga has passed—and a Star Wars fan can only hope he’s resting peacefully in a galaxy far, far away. Peter Mayhew, of course, played Chewbacca the Wookiee, probably one of the most beloved characters to emerge from the Star Wars films, and those who never knew him personally only hear how he was a humble and kind person all the way through. And one would have to be in a role where you’re hidden behind all that fur, a walking carpet one might say, and have to see your costars rise to meteoric fame. And who’s to say that Peter would have even wanted that, but I hope he knew how much gravitas and physicality he brought to Chewie to make him a multidimensional character. There are so many memorable moments, from his comedic bickering with Han Solo (which he had to rely solely on acting with his body) to emotional scenes when he watches his best friend get frozen in carbonite. But nothing quite gets me like the sequence in The Empire Strikes Back after C-3PO has been broken down into pieces after stumbling into the wrong room on Cloud City and Chewbacca hunts down all the pieces to salvage what has become of the droid. It’s a brief moment, but his commitment to not letting his friend down is brought to life by Mayhew’s performance, and it’s one of the purest moments in all of Star Wars, and dare I say in all of cinema.

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