Just a few days ago, production started on the highly-anticipated Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, with Disney sending out the first full cast photo with all of the main stars. The announcement also revealed that Joonas Suotamo will be fully taking over the role of Chewbacca in this long-awaited spin-off, after splitting time with the legendary Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Shortly after the cast photo was released, Joonas Suotamo released a heartfelt statement to the fans about his portrayal of Chewbacca.
We first met Joonas Suotamo back in January 2016, just weeks after The Force Awakens had opened, where it was revealed that this 29-year-old basketball player from Finland was the actor who wore the Chewbacca suit during all of Chewie's action sequences, since Peter Mayhew has suffered from knee problems for the past several years. Peter Mayhew was still on board in Star Wars: The Force Awakens for scenes that weren't so physically demanding, but now it seems that Joonas Suotamo is taking over the role on his own. The actor took to Twitter to release a heartfelt statement to his fans and Peter Mayhew as he begins his journey as the new Chewbacca.
"I am profoundly grateful for this amazing opportunity to become a part of the Star Wars franchise that I have loved since my childhood. I would like to thank my family, friends, basketball coaches and teammates, fellow cast and crew members, the staff at LucasFilm and Disney, the great fans of this spectacular universe, and especially Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca is one of the most iconic characters in the history of film, and Peter's development and portrayal of this beloved Wookiee has spread so much joy across the globe. Peter's guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love. See you in a galaxy far, far away... *Wookie fist bump*"
Joonas Suotamo was born in Finland before making his way to Penn State University, where he played basketball from 2005 to 2008, and graduated with a film degree. He returned back to Finland to play for his hometown team in Espoo, outside of Helsinki, where he heard from his basketball coach that there is a movie production looking for someone of his height. At 6-foot-11-inches tall, Joonas Suotamo is just slightly shorter than the 7-foot-2-inch Peter Mayhew. Star Wars: The Force Awakens served as the new Chewbaca actor's feature film debut.
While we still don't have any official plot details quite yet, Joonas Suotamo joins a cast that also includes Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Woody Harrelson as the title character's mentor, Garris Shrike, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and Emilia Clarke and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in unspecified roles. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are directing Han Solo: A Star Wars Story from a script by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, with Kathleen Kennedy producing alongside Allison Shearmur. Take a look at Joonas Suotamo's tweet where he introduces himself to Star Wars fans around the world.