‘Star Wars’ fans will be delighted that Chewbacca, Han Solo’s faithful buddy, returns for a prominent role in ‘The Force Awakens’.
It’s also heartening that the actor who played him in the original films, Peter Mayhew, is also back inside the costume this time around.
However Mayhew (below) is now 71 and has had problems with his knees, so another actor was needed to play the enormous wookiee for his action scenes.
Step forward 29-year-old Joonas Suotamo (pictured at the top), the latest unsung star of the ‘Star Wars’ universe.
Talking to Yahoo, the director of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ JJ Abrams, told us how the pair of actors built Chewie’s performance:
“In the scenes where Peter was Chewbacca it was always wonder to have him in the suit playing this character that gave myself at least some of the best ‘Star Wars’ memories.
“We had a wonderful guy, this Finnish actor who is twice as tall as I am, playing Chewbacca in many of the action scenes, his name is Joonas, I cant say enough about him. They were both fantastic. There’s something about growing up 7 feet tall or more, 7-foot-2 I think [according to reports Joonas is actually 6-foot-10] that he had this love and respect and connection for this character of Chewie all his life.
“The fact that he got to play Chewie in so many scenes was a powerful thing for him but Peter was often there while Joonas was doing this almost to be a consultant.”
We don’t know loads about Joonas, but apparently he played basketball for Penn State from 2005-2008, as well as the Finnish national team. A native of Espoo in Finland, he apparently always wanted to pursue a career in movies.
Nabbing a role as one of the greatest characters in the biggest film off the decade is not a bad way to make your film debut.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is in cinemas now. Watch our full interview with JJ Abrams below.
Image credit: IMDB/Press Asscociation