Though our primary recollections of any Oscars ceremony will lean on the awards themselves (it is an awards ceremony after all), their yearly In Memorium is always worthy of attention. Among the many dearly departed film alumni the Academy dedicated this year was Peter Mayhew, who passed away in April 2019 at the age of 74. Mayhew was best known for portraying Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, and latterly in Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens.
The iconic role has since been handed down to Joonas Suotamo, who took the reins from Mayhew in 2017’s The Last Jedi. Now, with Chewie back in our minds, Suotamo took to Twitter to put on record his appreciation for the Academy’s tribute, while paying his own respects to the man who wore the before him:
I was glad the #Oscars honored my dear mentor, predecessor, & friend Peter Mayhew. The Star Wars family will remember him for the greatness of his spirit & I’ll always cherish our time collaborating on The Force Awakens as we sought to bring back Chewbacca to a new generation. pic.twitter.com/PC6xS6XI8r
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) February 10, 2020
Poignant. That’s the word. No meta-commentary or snarky gags on this one. It’s always sobering to think about, and to talk about. I’m no Star Wars nut and this passing didn’t mean anything to me when it happened, but writing up on it completely changes things. Right, need to haul this one back from a sentimental breakdown – believe me, that is one of my least favourite qualities in all of cinema. I watched The Shawshank Redemption the other day and the schmaltz could’ve killed me. And there I was saying there’d be no snarky gags.
Just as well. Death is too upsetting not to laugh about. Rest in peace Peter Mayhew, a man clearly loved by many, and thanks to both Suotamo and the Academy for their tributes to him. It’ll be back to normal service next time, but even if it’s just for this moment, it’s good to remember someone we miss.