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Underneath that giant Chewbacca suit is a 7 foot tall blonde hair, blue eyed boy named Joonas Suotamo. His story is one of my favorite because he doesn’t have the traditional background of an actor. Joonas is a professional basketball player. A few years back, he was playing for the Finnish Basketball association and his coach was approached by Star Wars executives and they were looking for someone who was 7 feet tall and had blue eyes for a part in a movie. Joonas fit the part and decided that he wanted to audition for the part as Chewie. His audition video included him as a caveman to show how he could move and act.
About Solo: A Star Wars Story
“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. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany.”
About CHEWBACCA (Joonas Suotamo)
“The mighty Wookiee is nearly two centuries old, but he has fallen on hard times during the age of the expanding Empire. When fate has Han and Chewbacca cross paths, Chewbacca embarks on a long, loyal and trusting friendship that he could have never expected.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story Interview with Chewbacca
Solo: A Star Wars Story is his third film as Chewbacca. He feels that being a professional basketball player “gifted him with body awareness” and that he was born to play this role! When Joonas Suotamo first heard that he was going to have the opportunity to meet Harrison Ford, he spent the entire next 24 hours practicing Wookie. He felt if he was playing Chewbacca and meeting Harrison Ford, he better be able to speak Wookie! Joonas greeted us in Wookie when he first came into the room and sounded just like Chewbacca!
The role of Chewbacca was very important to Joonas and he really respected the legacy of Chewbacca. He knew that fans wanted to see the same Chewbacca that they already loved. Before his first movie, Joonas did a “Wookie Bootcamp” with the original Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew. This bootcamp was a week long and he was able to learn why Peter did things the way he did and how de did what he did. Peter and Angie Mayhew both gave Joonas their blessing to play Chewbacca. He was grateful for their blessing and recognized that it must be hard to be replaced.
There are many challenges involved in filming the Chewbacca character. The main obstacle for Joonas was overheating in the Wookie Suit. The suit is very large and they had to always be aware of how his suit would look on camera. He also talked a lot about the challenges of keeping the fur from his wookie suit out of his mouth and eyes and the costume designers would have to come in with tweezers to help him get the hairs out. In talking about the character of Chewbacca in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Joonas explains him as looking for a way out. That he walks around with worry on his shoulders and no structure in his life. This movie is truly the arc of the friendship of Chewie and Han and learning to trust. It was important to Joonas to get this friendship between Chewbacca and Han Solo right because it is such an important part of the movie.
It only makes sense to throw in this photo during an interview with Chewbacca because it is really my favorite. One thing you will notice about Chewbacca is that he often carried a bag. We asked him what was in the bag. He said that the bag is often empty, but sometimes he would keep candy in it. The days when their were kids on set he would give them chocolate so they would feel more comfortable meeting Chewbacca.
Joonas Suotamo was so kind to take a group photo with us. I think it is so much fun that he was standing in the photo so we can see how tall he is next to most of us! Joonas was very kind and fun to interview. As you can read in my interviews, the other Solo: A Star Wars Story actors loved getting to work with Joonas and talk very highly of him.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens in theaters everywhere on May 25th!
What better way to celebrate Solo: A Star Wars Story and Young Chewie with these adorable Chewbacca Cookies!! You can print the recipe below!
- 1 C unsalted sweet cream butter
- 1 1/2 C powder sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 medium circle cookie cutter
- 1 cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper
Royal icing ingredients:
- 3 Egg whites
- 1 1/2 -2 C powder sugar
- 1 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Brown gel food coloring
- 3 disposable piping bags
- #14 wilton cake tip and 2 - #2 wilton cake tip
- 1 edible marker
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Using a standing mixer, cream together the butter, powder sugar, vanilla and egg together until creamy and combined.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cream of tarter and baking soda
- Gradually mix in the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until combined and a dough forms
- Once the dough is formed, sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of flour onto a cutting board and place the dough onto the cutting board.
- Sprinkle some flour onto the cookie dough and roll out the dough to about 2 inches thick
- Cut out your cookies and place onto the cookie sheet
- Bake your cookies for about 8-10 minutes
- Let them cool completely
- Royal icing directions:
- Using the standing mixer, combine the egg whites, cream of tarter, powder sugar and vanilla and mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form
- Split the icing into 3 bowls
- In one bowl add a few drops of brown gel food coloring to get a light brown color
- In the second bowl add a few plus more drops of brown gel food coloring to get a darker brown color
- Leave the third bowl white
- Cut the tips off the piping bags and place a tip into each bag.
- Using the bag with the number 14 tip, scoop the light brown icing into it and set aside
- Scoop the darker brown icing into a piping bag fitted with a number 2 tip, set aside
- Scoop the white icing into the last piping bag fitted with the last number 2 tip set aside
- Decorating directions:
- Using the edible marker, pipe a long rectangle from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. This is Chewbacca's belt
- Using the light brown icing, pipe around the belt
- Using the dark brown icing, pipe lines on the edge of the belt and fill it in
- Using the white icing, add dots onto the belt
- Let icing completely dry for about 2 hours before enjoying!