Star Wars actors lead emotional tributes to Peter Mayhew after his death aged 74

Celebrities have paid tribute to the Star Wars Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, who has died aged 74.

The original Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, posted a touching message on his Twitter page, describing Mr Mayhew as 'a big man with an even bigger heart'.

He added: "He was the gentlest of giants – a big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile and a loyal friend who I loved dearly.

"I'm grateful for the memories we shared and I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete."

Mr Hamill said he was 'heartbroken' by his friend's death.

Other celebrities, including Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood, also shared their sadness at the loss of the Hollywood legend.

George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, said Mr Mayhew's death was 'a sad day for millions of fans', on his Twitter page.

In a statement posted online, Mr Mayhew's family said: "The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away.

"He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.

"Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy.

"He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor.

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth.

"But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."

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