The mighty Chewbacca has fallen.
A few years ago, when Carrie Fischer died, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I was okay. She knew how much Star Wars meant to me and was actually surprised I hadn’t taken the day off. Rather than be surprised, I was honestly touched by the sentiment. It’s something that I have never stopped and considered, that my love of this franchise could have permeated into the knowledge of people around me. It was sweet, even though I was devastated.
So you can imagine how Peter Mayhew’s passing is going for me.
A few years back I actually got to meet the guy. A signing/meet-and-greet at a local comic book store gave me an opportunity to talk with him for a few minutes, to express my appreciation for the part he played in my life, as impersonal as it was. He was gruff, frustrated, and didn’t seem at peace with who he was in the eyes of the people that loved his character.
A couple of years after that the New Jedi Order started publishing it’s 19 book run. This was met with controversy as it opened with the death of Chewbacca (don’t get pissy with me about the spoiler, the book is nearly 20 years old at this point), and I actually set aside reading Star Wars books for a couple of years. The idea that these characters had lost their plot armor was a new one to me, and I didn’t like it. I was unable to reconcile the idea that we can get attached to these characters on such a level that their deaths are affecting like that.
Life doesn’t work like that, though. We lose people we love be it in our personal lives or those we enjoy as celebrities. The last few years there have been several that I’ve been sad about, from Carrie Fischer to Leonard Cohen. I’m demanding a sterilized laboratory right here and now to protect Harrison Ford from death, no matter the cost. These losses felt personal to me because of how their work affected my childhood, and nostalgia held them close.
Peter Mayhew grew to love his fans, interacting with them constantly online and seeming genuinely happy about how much they appreciated his portrayal of Chewbacca. For a character with no real dialogue, I was always impressed with his physical ability and kindness. His Reddit account will have to be retired, but those saved and sweet comments will be beloved for years. His Twitter will follow suit.
Goodbye buddy. You played the biggest, hairiest, best bro in the galaxy and you will be missed. Thanks for everything.