Mark Hamill has lead the tributes to his late Star Wars co-star Peter Mayhew, saying he is "a better man for just having known him."

Mayhew died on Tuesday at the age of 74, surrounding by loved ones at his home in Texas.

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Hamill tweeted, ''He was 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.

"I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars"

Harrison Ford paid tribute to the "wit and grace" Mayhew brought to his the character of Chewbacca.

"We were partners in film and friends for over 30 years and I loved him," the actor said in a statement. 

"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience. Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together."

Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson labelled Mayhew "a true legend."

George Lucas released a statement saying, "Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature... and I learned to always let him win.

"He was a good friend and I'm saddened by his passing."

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said they are all "deeply saddened" by his passing.

"We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing," Kennedy said via the official Star Wars Twitter.

"Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself."

Star Trek star William Shatner was among the first to send his condolences, recalling times he would run into the Star Wars star at conventions.

''I am so sorry to hear about Peter," Shatner tweeted.

"We had so many fun and memorable tweets back and forth over the years plus seeing each other at a convention here and there. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed!"

George Takei hailed Mayhew's passing as "a sad day for millions."

Tributes have been pouring in on Twitter: