Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca in the newest Star Wars movies, including Solo (in theaters May 25). The 6-foot-11-inch actor spoke to Boys’ Life about what it’s like playing one of the most famous characters from that galaxy far, far away.
What should fans expect from Solo: A Star Wars Story?
It’s the story of a young Han Solo and his unexpected adventures. He meets up with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, and they embark on a journey that involves high stakes and a dangerous criminal underworld.
When I first put on the Chewbacca suit, I noticed people’s eyes light up. To be inside that suit and to entertain people is so rewarding. It’s a dream come true to play a part in all this.
Were you a Star Wars fan growing up?
Absolutely. I only had the films on VHS cassettes, and mostly learned about the saga through magazines and toys. I got interested in all the amazing droids, inventions and weird stuff. For example, I always wondered about the blue milk Luke was drinking on Tatooine. I wanted to be a part of that world, and now I am.
How do you prepare for playing Chewbacca?
In front of the mirror, mostly. It requires certain calm to make the Wookiee work. Chewbacca has a very specific way of moving and behaving. It takes lots of practice. But it’s so much fun to see the work pay off with smiles from the cast, crew and audience.
Other than Chewie, who’s your favorite Star Wars character and why?
I would say Han, but that’s a given. Other than him, it would probably be Luke Skywalker or his co-pilot, Dak Ralter, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I love the bond between co-pilots.
What are the best things about being tall?
When I was younger, it helped me play basketball. Now, I would say it’s the fact that I have a chance to make people happy by playing one of the most memorable characters in movie history.