Star Wars actor known for playing Chewbacca Peter Mayhew has died

Peter Mayhew has died aged 74.

The actor - who was best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise - tragically passed away on April 30 at his home in Texas at the age of 74, his family have confirmed.

In a statement, they said: "We are so very sad to have to inform you all that Peter Mayhew who was Chewbacca in the ‘Star Wars’ films passed away last night at his home in Texas.

"Peter was a real gentle giant and a very quiet, shy and beautiful person! A one-off! The Chewbacca role was more Peter playing himself on screen and the question of how much of Peter is Chewie and how much of Chewie is Peter will never be worked out as they really were one and the same.”

His family - including wife Angelique, whom he married in 1999 - went on to explain how he always loved meeting ‘Star Wars’ fans, and still attended conventions regularly.

They added: "Peter loved playing Chewbacca as he could put away his shyness and become a roaring Wookiee when he needed to be. Meeting fans and especially the children that were into Star Wars and seeing the magic in their eyes when they got to meet Peter was something that drove him to attend public events and Comic Cons, which he continued to do up until last week."

Peter retired from playing Chewbacca after 2015’s The Force Awakens but felt the character was "safe" in the hands of his stunt double Ian Whyte.

His family said: "As time went on Peter was finding it harder to take on the filming commitments of Chewbacca and even though you could never replace Peter he saw Chewie live in the way that actor Ian Whyte played the character as Peter’s Stunt Double in The Force Awakens. Ian cared about how Peter portrayed Chewie and understood that Chewie was Peter and so he watched him and learned to become Peter as Chewie. Peter felt that the character was safe for future generations of Star Wars fans with Ian’s insight and care."

As of the time of writing, Peter’s family has not confirmed a cause of death.

- Bang! Showbiz