Star Wars 9 is officially three weeks into production. Though apparently, some last minute changes needed to be made to the story. If a new rumor is to be believed, J.J. Abrams rewrote the script right before shooting got underway. And it sounds like it's all Chewbacca and Lando's fault.
There's some strange new information leaking out of the Lucasfilm camp, and it claims that Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role of Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew starting in The Force Awakens, shot a great deal of his Star Wars 9 scenes during the production of Solo. Which makes sense if he isn't in this upcoming sequel very much.
Joonas Suotamo recently had to cancel his upcoming appearance at the Rose City Comic Con this September because he got called back for reshoots. Which are happening during the actual initial filming of the movie. Suotamo believed that after just a few weeks of production, he'd be done with his part in the story. But not so fast.
It's believed that Chewbacca initially had a very limited role in Star Wars 9, and the wookie knocked out most of his key scenes while also filming this past summer's latest Star Wars Story. Did Ron Howard direct these scenes? We're not quite sure about that, as J.J. Abrams was deep into pre-production while these shoots were supposedly going on.
StarWarsNewsNet.com has an interesting breakdown of the timeline over there at Lucasfilm. Solo wrapped on October 18, 2017. It wasn't until four months later, on February 21, that J.J. Abrams publicly confirmed that he'd finished the Star Wars 9 script. So how did Chewbacca know what to shoot for the sequel? We don't know.
Back in June, Joonas Suotamo was confirmed for the Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon, which is running from September 7-9. On June 28, Billy Dee Williams canceled his own upcoming appearances at more than one Comic Con across the country. These were events that spanned from early through mid September. Star Wars 9 officially began production on August 1. It was on August 8 that Suotamo canceled his Rose City appearance, a week after he'd already starting shooting. And we know he had scenes on the first day, because J.J. Abrams sent out that image of the actor in his Chewbacca suit inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Rey and Finn.
Suotamo supposedly dodged out of his Rose City Comic Con commitments because he now has all new Chewbacca scenes to shoot that will take him through September. We saw set photos earlier today that featured Chewbacca on a mission with Finn, Poe and some new alien horses. Looking at the timetable as it's all laid out, something definitely changed between June 15 and August 8, and those changes were sufficient enough that Suotamo had to cancel. Apparently, his upcoming appearance was locked in. So up until August 8, the wookie actor was not set to shoot any Chewbacca scenes in September. The same was true for Billy Dee Williams, who was not set to shoot any Lando scenes during that month either. The actor is said not to have been confirmed for Star Wars 9 until very late June.
The speculation is that J.J. Abrams didn't know if Lando was going to be in the movie until very late in the game. So they had a slightly different story mapped out. It's speculated that these rewrites were to add new scenes between Lando and Chewbacca into the movie, which is definitely something fans need to see. Especially since we were all denied the Han and Luke reunion. It's likely that all the rewrites done were to incorporate more Lando and Chewbacca into the movie. It's unclear if Billy Dee Williams was holding out on his contract, or if J.J. Abrams simply didn't have him in that initial script, and it was a last minute decision by Lucasfilm to bring back this legacy character in a desperate rush to appease fans. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about how this all played out in the near future.