Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Has Both Knees Replaced

09/12/2013 at 08:50 AM EDT

Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Has Both Knees Replaced
Peter Mayhew
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic
The universe's most famous Wookiee hopes to be up and roaring again soon.

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, is recovering in a Texas hospital after having double knee-replacement surgery on Monday.

"We have made him bigger, stronger & faster; now if we can just get him out of bed! Taking it slow and steady," his family wrote Tuesday on his Twitter page, one of several updates they have given on his condition.

The British-born Mayhew, 69, who is 7'3" and now lives in Texas, has reportedly used a wheelchair for the past two years. He hopes the surgery will let him walk again.

"I see a wookiee roaring in the future!" his family wrote in another Twitter post.

After playing Harrison Ford's shaggy sidekick in the first three Star Wars films, Mayhew found a second career making furniture. He moved to the U.S. in 1999 and reprised the role of Chewbacca in the third Star Wars prequel, 2005's Revenge of the Sith.

"After talking with him, I knew I'd found Chewbacca. He was perfect," George Lucas told PEOPLE in 2004. "When Peter put on that costume, he instantly became the embodiment of the character."

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