Star Wars’ recent official announcement of the start of production for the upcoming Han Solo anthology film included the confirmation that a new actor has stepped into the role of Chewbacca. For the first time in the franchise’s history, Chewbacca will not be played by Peter Mayhew. Instead, the Finnish-born Joonas Suotamo will step into the 72-year-old actor’s Wookiee suit full-time, starting with the young Han Solo movie.
Suotamo shared his feelings with fans via Instagram, where he said that he is “profoundly grateful for this amazing opportunity to become a part of the Star Wars franchise” and that he aspires “to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love.”
A basketball player turned actor, Suotamo previously played college basketball at Penn State — where he also graduated with a film degree. Suotamo, previously an over-the-phone insurance salesman, actually got his start as Chewbacca playing Mayhew’s double and performing Chewbacca’s more physically demanding scenes in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” While Suotamo is a little shorter than Mayhew (6’10” as opposed to 7’6″), he’s been trained in the ways of the Wookiee by Mayhew himself.
Mayhew debuted as Chewbacca in 1977’s “Star Wars” and performed the character in every one of his subsequent live action appearances, including the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” and the feature film sequels “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” He also reprised his role in the prequel film “Revenge of the Sith.” He’s even played the Wookiee in guest spots on TV series like “Glee” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The 72-year-old Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery in 2013, which has limited his movement in recent years, necessitating a Chewbacca double — Suotamo — in “The Force Awakens.” While the cast list for this year’s “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” has yet to be announced, Suotamo most likely performed the role of Chewbacca in that film as well. “The Last Jedi” will arrive in theaters on December 15, 2017.
Directed by “The Lego Movie” helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller from a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan and starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca and Woody Harrelson, the still-untitled Han Solo “Star Wars” anthology film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
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