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Peter Mayhew, who portrayed Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, has passed away at the age of 74. According to a statement released by his family, he died at his home in Texas with his family at his side on 30th April.
Mayhew was born in London, and was selected for the role of Chewbacca purely for his height (7ft 2in). While casting for Star Wars George Lucas has initially earmarked David Prowse to portray Chewbacca but Prowse opted to play Darth Vader instead, leaving the wookiee suit open. He would portray Han Solo's co-pilot in the original trilogy, and returned for Revenge of the Sith. In 2015's The Force Awakens he shared the role with Joonas Suotamo, for subsequent films he remained in a consultant role.
A fan favourite at conventions, Mayhew was often described as a gentle giant, and his family said that "the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film". He was also much-loved by his fellow cast members, and tributes have been flooding in.
A private memorial service for friends and family will be held in June, with a memorial service for fans planned for December.
Rest in peace, Peter Mayhew, 1944 - 2019.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga. Production was announced by George Lucas in 2011, years after initially claiming that the story of Star Wars ended with Return of the Jedi. In 2012 Lucas sold Lucasfilm, along with the entire Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney Company who then assembled a new team to rework Episode VII to their own design. This marks the start of a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, and effectively reboots the franchise by casting off the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, opening the doors for new stories to take place in various media.
The film was widely anticipated and went on to break several box office records, and is currently the third highest grossing film of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic (unadjusted for inflation, as of February 2016). It won a Bafta for Best Special Visual Effects at the 2016 British Academy Film Awards, and was the American Film Institute's Movie of the Year for 2015.
The Force Awakens is set roughly 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi and follows new heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, as they assist the the Resistance in the fight against the evil forces of the First Order, which has risen from the ashes of the defeated Galactic Empire.
So a few days ago, ILM released a link to their portfolio of concept art drafted up for The Force Awakens.
It's really quite interesting to see how closely the film actually got to these concepts... and which ones didn't.
Plus, the artwork is just freaking beautiful.