Peter Mayhew's death sparks a flurry of Hollywood tributes

The actor famous for playing Chewbacca in Star Wars has died aged 74, spurring tributes from Rob Iger, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill

epa07543513 (FILE) - US actor/cast member Peter Mayhew arrives to the European premiere of the film 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Leicester square in London, Britain, 16 December 2015 (Reissued 02 May 2019). According to reports on 02 May 2019, US actor Peter Mayhew, known for playing Chewbacca in Star Wars films, has died at the age of 74 on 30 April 2019 at his home in North Texas.  EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA *** Local Caption *** 52472350

Several Holllywood stars have paid tribute to Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew after his family announced his death on Tuesday evening.

Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the famous film series, passed away in his North Texas home at the age of 74.

His family praised Mayhew's "kindness generosity and care" and commitment to his fans in a statement published to Twitter.

Mayhew played the furry wookie in the original Star Wars trilogy, later reprising the role for 2005's Revenge of the Sith.

In 2015 he fought back from illness to appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also played an active role in training his successor in the franchise.

"He put this 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," the family wrote.

As the news of Mayhew's death broke, tributes to the actor began to pour on to social media. Some shared photographs of Mayhew with Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia and died in December 2016.

Tributes were led by Disney chief executive Rob Iger, who called Mayhew "larger than life in so many ways. A gentle giant playing a gentle giant."

Harrison Ford who starred side by side with Chewie paid tribute to the actor in a statement that read: "We were partners in film and friends for over 30 years and I loved him."

Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker in the movie franchise, took to twitter to describe Mayhew as the "the gentlest of giants - A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly".

Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars films, thanked Mayhew for the memories.

Star Wars fans also took to twitter to mourn the loss of the actor so close to May 4th - a veritable holiday for devotees of the films.

Mayhew is survived by his wife Angie and their three children.

His wife will continue the work of his charitable foundation, which has supported Venezuelans during the humanitarian crisis and a range of people needing support.