One thing is hearing Chewbacca speak in the film but another is getting to hear it in person. So when Joonas Suotamo (“Chewbacca”) walked in and did before the interview officially began, I geeked out a little bit. Tall and with blue eyes, Joonas is perfect for the role. A role is honored to have and has really enjoyed.
Here is what Joonas Suotamo had to say…
What it was like meeting Harrison Ford
“It’s great. And I think, I think I was so nervous that the first thing when I saw Harrison was, ‘Harrison, oh, boy, I wasn’t even born when you guys made these films’. And he did not like that very much. But we were able to climb over that hurdle and [LAUGHS] start again.”
How he went from pro basketball player to starring as Chewbacca
I got the role out of the blue sky. A call came one day from the Finnish Basketball Association, who had received a request for a such person who has blue eyes and is seven feet tall…And so the casting was pretty desperate at that point to find one. And they called me and I said immediately I’m interested. It didn’t take a second [CHUCKLES] to think about it…”
The audition process
“…I filmed a video of me playing a caveman, half naked in my old high school gym [LAUGHS]. Just the kind of video where I go like [GRUNTS], just playing this cave man who gets shot in the knee with an arrow and stuff like that…They wanted to see if I could do the acting required for the film. It was four or five months to really go through the process. And at the end of it, I received a call saying, congrats, you are gonna play Chewbacca.”
The biggest challenge with the Chewbacca suit
“…I think it’s the fact that every day you need to have someone poke your eyes with rich black makeup to hide the white of my eyes…”
Respecting the previous legacy of Chewbacca
“…respecting the legacy of Chewbacca, because he was played by Peter Mayhew, the legendary, original Chewbacca. I want it to be so that the fans going to these films see the same Chewbacca who was in the original films, because Chewbacca is so loved and I would not there to be a feeling that Chewbacca somehow feels different this time around.
Attending Wookie Bootcamp with Peter Mayhew
“Yes, I consulted with Peter. I had a week long — we called it the Wookie Bootcamp. [LAUGHS] and he showed me the original films and clips. And we looked at his walk, and he told me why he did it such a way and what he did and what was he thinking at the time. And it was so helpful, because I had done some studying up myself previously. And to hear from the master himself how and why did he do those things helped me tremendously in preparing for this role.”
Stepping out of Millennium Falcon for the very first time
The first time I stepped on the Millennium Falcon was on THE FORCE AWAKENS, it was the first day of Harrison on the Millennium Falcon. And there were people crying. I didn’t cry [CHUCKLES]. I held the tears back…you heard what happened initially, this was couple hours after that so, I wanted to be on my good behavior for the rest of the day…it is just the marvelous thing, because your mind goes back to the times you saw the movie and the first time Luke put on that helmet and battled against the floating ball, which I still don’t know how they did that. [LAUGHS] And it’s just like you know all the angles that they used. And it’s wonderful to be there…”
Playing a younger/earlier version of Chewbacca
“…he becomes the character…because this movie happens in a time where the empire is not expanding. And Chewbacca is in a very bad situation at the start of this film. So, I approached it as Chewbacca is very much looking for a way out and going on his own somewhere. ‘Cause he has a family. He has a commitment to his tribe. And I was very much looking forward to this, because he’s very different.
He kind of walks around with worry on his shoulders, because he doesn’t know where this road will take him. And this movie also shows what that new life for Chewbacca is going to be and if he will take that. And it was very interesting to do, because he doesn’t have any kind of structure in his life at that point. And we talked with Alden. We talked a lot about the arc of their friendship and how to start that journey together so that the audience will see the development and also the downs and the ups of that relationship. And it was very important to get right, because we all wanna see how that relationship started…”
Want to know more about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Check out my post on the Solo: A Star Wars Story world premiere, my movie review and be sure to check back for my interviews with Alden Ehrenreich (“Han Solo”), Emilia Clarke (“Qi’ra”), Paul Bettany (“Dryden Vos”), Director Ron Howard, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“L3-37”) and Woody Harrelson (“Tobias Beckett”).
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on May 25th!
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes