Joonas Suotamo is a Finnish actor and former professional basketball player. Known for his extraordinary height, he served as a body double for Peter Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Suotamo then reprised the role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with Mayhew as a consultant. Now he will be reprising his role as Chewbacca in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which premieres on May 25, 2018.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Joonas Suotamo on press day, where we discussed the his excitement about taking over the role from the legendary Peter Mayhew and bringing a new physicality to the role.
SR: This movie is incredible. Performance is incredible. I love seeing Chewbacca meet Han for the first time. It's something that I've always imagined in my head, but this played out a lot better on screen. You're taking over for the incredible Peter Mayhew. It's incredibly large shoes to fill figuratively and literally. What do you want to bring to Chewbacca his legacy?
Joonas Suotamo: I want to bring those stories that we've heard about. I wanna to give them a nod, but also I know that mystery is good, so maybe we shouldn't try to show all those, uh, legends and bring him to the screen, but rather introduce a deeper character behind Chewbacca and show him in more adventures. So I'm wanting to, uh, to, uh, show a lot more Chewbacca.
SR: So speaking of more adventures, Chewbacca is incredibly old. He's at least in this part of the movie's over 150 years old. What do you want to see. . .well, first of all, are there any future installment, any plans for Chewbacca going forward? In these kinds of anthology films?
Joonas Suotamo: I think we're just have to wait and see.
SR: Good answer.
Joonas Suotamo: Yeah, I'm very much open to it because I love this character. I love the reactions people have to it and how kids take them. Uh, yeah.
SR: Now, where would you want to see Chewbacca go personally next?
Joonas Suotamo: I think I wanted to see, I want to see Chewbacca just, uh, in the most epic adventure and I think we're, yeah, we have, we already have one in this film, but on to the next one. I would say.
SR: So Chewbacca in this film has a scene where he sets other Wookiees free and in the holiday special he has, Mala, his wife, is Mala one of those characters that he sets free.
Joonas Suotamo: Uh, I can't, I don't. Um, we have to wait and see because I'm not sure I understand. Um, I think, uh, I think, yeah, Chewbacca has a capacity for good and uh, he's gonna eventually, you're given, give him enough time. He's going to set everyone free.
SR: The advantages of casting a younger Chewbacca is you can bring more of a physicality to the role. Can you talk to me about some of the challenges are, or even a lot of the stunts that you had to do a performing Chewbacca and this film?
Joonas Suotamo: Yeah, I mean, uh, we started two months ago or two months before filming. We started stunt rehearsals and going through all the kinds of fighting, things that are moves that he could do and a lot of it made it into the film.
Joonas Suotamo: Yeah and it's just great to see his strength, uh, in the battle and uh, and just bring it all together as a wholesome character.
SR: Now with this film, I've noticed that it seemed like everything was more practical. The sets, you know, everything else was more practical. Even the aliens were like puppeteering where it's more practical. How does that help you as a performer?
Joonas Suotamo: It's so easy to fly the Millennium Falcon when you see what you're flying into, when the rocks are coming at you and you're just flying, flying, flying, and the rig moves and everything, everything, all the aliens. You know, they, they had animatronic qualities to them. The creature effects department is such a great place to just go wander and look at what they're doing because they're constantly adding new creatures to these movies and uh, I love it.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019