Chewbacca star Peter Mayhew pays tribute to 'dear friend' Kenny Baker

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Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has paid an emotional tribute to his Star Wars co-star Kenny Baker, who died on Saturday at the age of 81.

Kenny, who was 3ft 8in, played the droid R2-D2 in the first six Star Wars films and was close friends with Peter.

Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker
(Michael Stephens/PA)

Writing on his website, Peter said: "I know I'm a bit late with this, but my sadness is profound and no words seemed adequate to convey what we collectively and I personally have lost with the passing of my dear friend Kenny Baker."

The actor said he became fast friends with Kenny the first time they met and formed a "lifelong bond".

Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker
(John Stillwell/PA)

Peter, who is 7ft 2in, added: "Although people liked to contrast the difference in our heights, we found we shared many of the same struggles, from finding clothes, driving cars, and fitting in airplane seats to health issues and the ever constant stares of strangers; we understood each other on a level that few others can."

Kenny had been ill for a couple of years and Peter said he was glad he had spent time with his friend in London earlier this month.

He added: "His talent and his wicked sense of humour never diminished even as his health did.

"Ever the showman, Kenny was always eager to meet his fans. In the decades we knew each other, I never met anyone who enjoyed the public more.

Peter Mayhew (top), who plays Chewbacca, and Kenny Baker, who plays R2D2, at the Royal Premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace at Leicester Square, London.
(John Stillwell/PA)

"For all the joy he brought this world on screen and off I give my thanks, and a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart who's gone to soon. Rest in Peace Kenny."

He accompanied his post with pictures of the two actors together, including one where Peter is wearing the bottom half of his Chewbacca costume and smoking a cigarette.