Peter Mayhew, actor, dies

Peter MayhewActor Peter Mayhew, who went from a job as a hospital orderly to co-starring in the Star Wars films as Chewbacca, dies at the age of 74. Following filming on Star Wars, with no way to anticipate the movie’s upcoming blockbuster success, Mayhew returned to his orderly job, continuing that line of work after the filming of both 1980‘s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983‘s Return Of The Jedi, before becoming a full-time fixture at Star Wars and science fiction conventions (and, later, the internet, regaling fans with behind-the-scenes stories both in person and online). He had some prior monster-suit-acting experience before George Lucas hired him for Star Wars, but not enough to amount to a steady stream of work. He reprised the role of Chewie in 2005‘s Revenge Of The Sith and 2015‘s The Force Awakens before handing the Wookiee suit off to former basketball player Joonas Suotamo, but still received a consulting credit for 2017‘s The Last Jedi, coaching Suotamo during filming. He had also put on the Wookiee suit for any number of promotional appearances, playing the character on The Muppet Show and Donny & Marie, as well as the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which afforded Chewie a larger role than some of the movies did.