Star Wars star Harrison Ford has paid an emotional tribute to Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, who has died aged 74, saying: “I loved him.”
Ford, who played Han Solo, praised the “kind and gentle man” for his “great dignity and noble character”.
Mayhew died at his home in Texas on 30 April with his family by his side, a statement said.
The British-US actor played the giant Wookiee warrior in several Star Wars films from 1977 until 2015.
“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame,” his family said.
London-born Mayhew played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode three of the prequels, and shared the role in 2015’s The Force Awakens.
Ford and Mayhew’s characters were close friends and piloted the Millennium Falcon. “We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him,” said Ford.
“He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”