In an interview with Yahoo, JJ Abrams mentioned that Peter Mayhew, the actor who originally played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, will be stepping out of the role for the upcoming Han Solo movie. Mayhew will be replaced by Joonas Suotamo, who has been training since The Force Awakens and acting out all of Chewbacca’s action scenes.
Abrams assured fans that “we had a wonderful guy, this Finnish actor who is twice as tall as I am, playing Chewbacca in many of the action scenes. They were both fantastic. There’s something about growing up 7 feet tall or more, 7’2” I think – 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 as a consultant.”
If the question is burning inside you, yes, Suotamo played basketball during his college years of 2005 to 2008. In addition the actor is quite dedicated to the role and wrote a tribute to Mayhew on Instagram, “I am profoundly grateful for this amazing opportunity to become a part of the Star Wars franchise that I have loved since my childhood… Chewbacca is one of the most iconic character in the history of film, and Pete’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…”
No one could have said it more truthfully. We can look forward to Suotamo continuing the epic legacy and providing the occasional comic relief or sorrowful cry.