For an actor who never showed his face or used his voice in his most famous role, Peter Mayhew spoke to generations.
Portraying a walking carpet of terrifying size and strength, but managing to imbue it with a heart of pure gold at the same time simply through body language and expressive eyes was a masterclass of acting often overlooked.
Chewbacca was the co-pilot every child wished they could have – ancient, wise and noble, and self-confident and good-natured enough to be upstaged by a sarcastic dustbin without tearing anybody’s arms off. When you absolutely had to risk everything to blow up a Death Star or two, there was nobody you’d rather have at your side.
Peter Mayhew was central to the creation of one of the foremost modern myths, but he remained surprised and touched by the attention that brought him right up until his death. He kept every fan letter he was ever sent, and would often unexpectedly reach out to fans on Internet comments threads – when he wasn’t trying to find a hydrospanner.
It seems trite to say it, but nobody is every really gone, and the force will be with him, always.
And somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, R2D2 is waiting by a holographic chessboard at a seat that will never be filled.