Peter Mayhew Chewbacca Actor Dies at 74

Chewbacca's howling in heaven today ... Peter Mayhew -- the man behind the mask of the iconic 'Star Wars' character -- has died ... according to his family.

We're told the actor died from a heart condition Tuesday at his home in North Texas, and was surrounded by friends and family. Peter played Chewie in all three films of the original 'Star Wars' trilogy, and did it all over again decades later in 'The Revenge of the Sith' and in 2015's 'The Force Awakens.'

His family says Peter fought his way back from being in a wheelchair to star in 'The Force Awakens' before retiring. However, he served as a consultant to Joonas Suotamo -- the Finnish basketball player who took over the role in 'The Last Jedi.'

Mayhew's survived by his wife and 3 children. His family is asking fans to donate to the Peter Mayhew Foundation -- which benefits families around the world in crisis situations -- in lieu of sending flowers or gifts.

They add ... there will be a memorial service for family in June, but in December ... they're planning to hold a service fans can attend in Los Angeles.

Peter was 74.

RIP

Jar Jar Binks Actor George Lucas' Approval Is The Beginning Of Healing For Me

EXCLUSIVE
A MOVING EXPERIENCE
TMZ.com

Ahmed Best -- the man who played the most despised and ridiculed 'Star Wars' character -- says George Lucas naming Jar Jar Binks as his favorite character is helping him heal lasting wounds.

Ahmed tells us George's surprise pick is putting him on a really strong path to healing ... after dealing with thoughts of suicide following the enormous backlash he faced over his role in the 'Star Wars' saga.

In case you missed it ... the famed director raised eyebrows among even the most die-hard 'Star Wars' fans earlier this week, when he called into a fan event marking the 20th anniversary of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" and named Jar Jar as his all-time fav.

Critics teed off on Jar Jar for years ... calling the amphibious alien creature a terrible exercise in child-pleasing, who perpetuated racist stereotypes with a strange Caribbean accent.

Ahmed says the backlash wreaked havoc on his career ... because his movie offers dried-up and he was never approached to play different roles in the new 'Star Wars' movies. Ahmed says being black didn't help his cause either, and other black actors were stigmatized as well.

But, now that George has come out in overwhelming support of Jar Jar .. Ahmed thinks people will start looking at the character in a new light and come to appreciate just how much Jar Jar helped influence a new generation of movies and filmmakers.

'Star Wars' 'Rise of Skywalker' Trailer Debuts ... Emperor Palpatine's Back!!!

Breaking News
IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY ...

The end of the last Star Wars trilogy now has a name -- 'The Rise of Skywalker' -- and the world just got its first look at the trailer with a spectacular premiere in a galaxy not far ... from Lake Michigan.

Director J.J. Abrams and much of the cast were at Star Wars Celebration Chicago -- think Comic-Con strictly for 'Star Wars' -- when they pulled the curtain back on the highly anticipated trailer. Aside from revealing the title ... it also had Mark Hamill's voice and at least one scene with the late Carrie Fisher.

One of the bigger surprises is the creepy laugh at the end of the trailer ... signaling the return of the Emperor, as in Palpatine.

When the trailer ended ... Ian McDiarmid, the guy who plays the Emperor, was standing on the Chicago stage -- and delivered a message in character.

Watch ... the crowd went wild, and the Force was definitely with them.

Jamie Foxx Wait, Malibu Ain't a 'Star Wars' Set ... WTF is That?!

Jamie Foxx must be thinking J.J. Abrams is shooting a movie on the streets of Malibu -- 'cause why the hell else would he run into a real-life robot working security at the beach??

The actor was out for lunch with a pal at the Malibu Village shopping center Wednesday afternoon when he came upon the K5 Knightscope -- an autonomous surveillance machine, and possible distant cousin of R2-D2 ... we're checking.

Anyway, Jamie was pretty astonished by K5.

The Oscar winner gave the security guard a once over and even busted out his phone for a photo, 'cause y'know ... pics or it didn't happen!.

K5 is pretty new to the area, but spokespeople for the shopping center have said its purpose is to keep the community safe by thwarting criminal activity and assisting police officers.

The machine is capable of securing large outdoor areas like parking lots, malls, campuses, etc ... it's also great at making famous friends.

If only it could host the Oscars!

Hollywood Memorabilia Auction Han's Coat, McFly's Hoverboard ... Other Props Up for Auction

Han Solo's 4-pocket black blazer in the OG 'Star Wars' movies -- as well as other real props from some of your fave flicks -- can now be yours ... for a boatload of cash.

Prop Store -- a well-known auction house -- is about to host the UK's largest live auction of film and TV memorabilia for the 5th year in a row late next month. The public can place their bids on over 600 iconic original movie props starting September 20 in London.

Just to give you an idea of how epic this thing will be, here are some of the items hitting the auction block:

-- Han's jacket (expected to fetch up $1.3 million).

-- Indiana Jones' original fedora (up to $397k).

-- Marty McFly's 'BTTFII' hoverboard (up to $66k).

-- The "Jumanji" game board (up to $13k).

-- The "Edward Scissorhands" costume (up to $105k).

There's loads more as well. All in all, we're told all of the memorabilia is expected to haul in upwards of $4.6 million. In other words ... that's about what the latter half of the 20th century's pop culture is worth.

Jar Jar Binks 'Star Wars' Actor Says Backlash Almost Made Me Kill Myself

Ahmed Best -- the man who played the most widely loathed and mocked 'Star Wars' character -- says the wave of negative reaction was so hard on him, he considered suicide.

The Jar Jar Binks actor made the revelation Tuesday, by tweeting a pic of himself and his son on a bridge with the caption ... "This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival."

Although he doesn't name "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" specifically, but a reference to "20 years" ago makes it pretty clear he's referring to that Jar Jar role.

He's previously said the negative reaction from the public included death threats.

Best has also been posting about performing a one-man show next year, which will mark the 20th anniversary of 'Phantom Menace.'

Ron Howard 'Solo' Made Disney Halt Spin-offs? ... Don't Believe Everything You Read

EXCLUSIVE
BOTTOM LINE IS ...
TMZ.com

Ron Howard is taking issue with reports Disney is putting future 'Star Wars' spin-offs on ice after his flick fell short, money-wise.

We got the director of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" Tuesday in Bev Hills just days after it was reported Disney was suspending all pre-planned 'Star Wars' story movies because 'Solo' failed to deliver the studio's desired box office numbers. That includes the Obi-Wan movie. Ron seems to say there are inaccuracies in the reporting, but he's not specific.

You'd think Ron would take the news to heart, considering his flick is being blamed for the rumored decision, but that ain't the case. As far as he knows, 'Solo' got good reviews and a generally decent turnout in ticket sales. Maybe not what Disney wanted ... but he's satisfied.

When you've got a track record like RH ... you can afford to hit a double now and then.

Natalie Portman My Disneyland Muscle's Outta This World

Natalie Portman knows how to make an entrance at Disneyland -- Cute kiddo in tow? Check. Stormtrooper as your muscle? No doubt!

Natalie and her family hit up The Happiest Place on Earth on Sunday where they got the royal treatment. The entire family was there ... hubby Benjamin Millepied, 1-year-old Amalia and 7-year-old son, Aleph.

They hit up It's a Small World and Big Thunder Mountain, but with Queen Amidala in town, it was a no-brainer that she also sit in for a 'Star Wars' show. Some of the kids, including Aleph, took the stage for a lightsaber show against Amidala's grandson, Kylo Ren.

But no doubt stealing the scene was baby girl Amalia ... who couldn't look any cuter avoiding the sun with her pink floppy hat. Adorbs!

Donald Glover This is Lando's America

Donald Glover's keeping it Gucci leading up to the release of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" ... perfectly in tune with his character in the movie.

The new Lando Calrissian was spotted looking cool on a hot NYC day while walking with his girlfriend/baby mama, Michelle, back to their hotel Thursday ... all he's missing is a stylish cape.

The highly anticipated 'Solo' film features Glover as young Lando and Alden Ehrenreich as young Han ... and opens tonight worldwide.

Donald doesn't seem like he's sweating it.

'Star Wars' Stand-Alone Obi-Wan Movie Near-Immediate 'New Hope' Prequel

EXCLUSIVE

The next movie in the 'Star Wars Story' franchise will feature Obi-Wan Kenobi -- but it ain't an origin story ... far from it actually.

According to a newly released production bulletin -- obtained by TMZ -- Disney's next foray into their spin-off series appears to be called "Obi-Wan: A Star Wars Story," with a working title of "Joshua Tree." "Return of the Jedi" also used a code name ... "Blue Harvest."

The synopsis reads as follows ... Obi-Wan is on Tatooine being an elusive hermit and stuff, but secretly watches over an infant Luke Skywalker, whom he delivered to his uncle, Owen. Tensions between the local farmers and a tribe of Sand People -- headed by a ruthless war chief -- eventually brings Obi outta hiding ... and into Jedi kickass mode. Scene.

The bulletin lists Stephen Daldry as the director -- he'd been rumored to be in talks for the film, and now it looks like he's attached. The movie's shooting in London at a well-known 'Star Wars' studio, recently used for 'The Last Jedi.' Production is set to begin next spring.

Here's the kicker (maybe) ... fans have been clamoring online for Ewan McGregor to reprise the role of (then-young, now-older) Obi, and he recently said he'd be open to it, but hadn't heard a peep from Lucasfilm ... yet. *These aren't the theories you're looking for.*

Harrison Ford What's Up, Han ... Any Big Movies Coming Out?

Harrison Ford made up for no-showing at the Hollywood premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" by getting a little quality time with the film's star ... who's playing the role he made famous.

As we reported ... Ford said he's seen the movie and thinks it's "phenomenal," but skipped out on the premiere with the rest of the cast Thursday because he didn't want to steal Alden Ehrenreich's thunder.

Alden's playing young Han Solo in the upcoming 'Star Wars' saga -- which opens May 25 -- and from the looks of it ... is in awe of his predecessor.

Harrison still knows his place, though -- this pic came after Ford and Ron Howard crashed an 'ET' interview with Alden, and Ford told him ... "Get outta my chair."

Lovingly, of course.

Harrison Ford Where the Heck Were Ya?! No-Show at 'Solo' Premiere

Harrison Ford not showing up to the "Solo: A Star Wars Story" premiere would be like Ron Howard not showing up to anything remotely related to "Happy Days" ... so it begs the question -- where the heck was Harrison?

The entire cast and crew -- including Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke -- were at the premiere Thursday in Hollywood. Not there, in an obvious way is Harrison, who burst to stardom after playing Solo in four 'Star Wars' films.

Sources connected to Harrison tell TMZ ... he's seen the flick and thinks it's "phenomenal." He didn't show up because he didn't wanna steal Alden's thunder.

Mission accomplished.

Harrison Ford The Force Is Still Strong With Carrie

Breaking News

Harrison Ford is honoring his pal, Mark Hamill, but he also has their beloved co-star Carrie Fisher on the mind.

Han Solo came out to support Luke Skywalker -- sans the Millennium Falcon this time -- as Hamill finally got his well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas was there too, so definitely a strong presence for the Force.

The most bittersweet moment of the ceremony came when Harrison took a moment to shout out Carrie.

Ya gotta believe Princess, sorry ... General Leia would be proud.

'Star Wars' Auction Stormtrooper Helmets Up for Grabs To Aid NorCal Fire Victims

EXCLUSIVE

A few fun 'Star Wars' props from the last 2 franchise films are on the auction block, and are expected to fetch thousands for a good cause -- helping victims of last year's fires in California's wine country.

Lucasfilm donated 2 screen-used First Order Stormtrooper helmets -- one from 'The Force Awakens' signed by director J.J. Abrams and company president Kathleen Kennedy ... and the other from 'The Last Jedi' signed by director Rian Johnson -- to raise the money.

There's also a model porg from 'The Last Jedi' -- one of just 5 ever made -- signed by Johnson, Kennedy and creature designer Neal Scanlan. All 3 auctions opened last week with a starting bid of $1,000 ... but the helmets already have bids placed for over $4k.

Proceeds from the auction will go to Tipping Point’s Emergency Fire Relief Fund, which supports low income communities affected by the fires in the Napa and Sonoma Valley areas.

Bidding online at ifonly.com ends March 2.

Dr. Evazan in 'Star Wars' Actor Alfie Curtis Dead at 87 1 Year After Carrie Fisher

Alfie Curtis, the man who played the disfigured thug that tried picking a fight with Luke Skywalker in the first 'Star Wars,' has died ... a year after Carrie Fisher's death.

Curtis, who played the uncredited Dr. Evazan, in George Lucas' 'A New Hope' reportedly passed away this week, according to Comicbook.com. Mark Hamill reacted to the actor's death Tuesday by posting a tribute on Twitter.

Curtis took a lightsaber to the chest from Obi-Wan Kenobi after he knocked over Luke at the Mos Eisley Cantina -- where "you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" ... according to Obi, anyway.

The British actor also starred in "The Elephant Man," "The Wildcats of St. Trinian's," "Take It or Leave It," and a number TV series from the 1970s and '80s.

His death falls upon the first death anniversary of Fisher, who played Princess Leia in 'Star Wars.' He was 87. RIP ... and may the force be with you.

Sen. Ted Cruz to Mark Hamill May the Facts Be with You In Our Internet Feud!!!

EXCLUSIVE
TWEET WARS
TMZ.com

Sen. Ted Cruz is channeling his inner Yoda to force Luke Skywalker to hear him out in one of the most awesome celeb beefs in the galaxy.

Cruz was on Capitol Hill Tuesday when he went off on Mark Hamill. The Jedi and the Texas guy have been feuding on Twitter about net neutrality. If ya missed the fireworks, Hamill slammed the FCC Chairman last week after net neutrality was repealed, but Cruz came to his defense and "smarm-splained" the situation ... which didn't sit well with Mr. Skywalker.

Ted clapped back, and tells us he simply countered the Jedi's insults with the full force ... of facts.

As for Cruz's review of 'The Last Jedi' ... sounds like we'll have to wait 'til after Christmas. Until then ... may the Twitter Wars continue.