Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original trilogy, has died aged 74.

He died on Tuesday at his North Texas home surrounded by loved ones, according to a family statement posted on Twitter.

Mayhew was discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London and cast in Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

The next year, he was cast as Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee.

Mayhew went on to appear in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens and The Star Wars Holiday Special.

He was active on the Star Wars convention circuit and wrote two books, Growing Up Giant and My Favorite Giant.

His height was not due to gigantism but he measured 2.21 metres at his highest.

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George Lucas originally had his eye on bodybuilder George Prowse but Prowse decided to play Darth Vader instead and Lucas went with the even taller Mayhew.

AAP