One of the biggest joys of watching The Force Awakens was seeing the beloved characters of the Original Trilogy brought to life once again. While Han Solo took a lot of the spotlight, a scoundrel is nothing without his Wookiee. Yes, Peter Mayhew also reprises his role as Chewbacca in the film. but it should be know that he did not do it alone.
For the past several years Mayhew has had problems with knees forcing him to use his trademark Lightsaber cane at times. Due to this, he was unable to perform certain scenes in the film that required more strenuous movements from Chewie. Because of this, Lucasfilm brought in Joonas Suotamo, a 29 year old Basketball player from Finland to double for Mayhew. Just recently Suotamo spoke with Business Insider about his role in the film. We grabbed some highlights from the interview which you can read below:
First off, Suotamo discussed his passion for acting, despite being discouraged by his 6 foot, 11 inch stature:
"I loved doing theater in high school. But I just didn't believe my chances to get any acting part were possible because of my size, so I studied more behind the camera."
He began his own video production company and even sold insurance to support himself. It was in late 2013 when he was contacted about auditioning for an unknown film that turned out to be Star Wars:
"I took three trips there [during the audition], and on the first time I got more details and realized what my role would be."
He subsequently studied Mayhew's performance in the Original Trilogy in detail by rewatching those films repeatedly and in April 2014 he was informed by director J.J. Abrams that he had gotten the part. Soon after he spent five months on set with Mayhew whom he doubled for and also sought guidance for portraying the nuances of the iconic Wookiee correctly. Apparently many of Chewie's scenes were shot twice, once with Mayhew and another with Suotamo. When asked which specific scenes he was in, the actor declined to answer:
"I will never get into it. That's for people to guess and figure out."
Suotamo was also present that fateful day when the Millennium Falcon door fell on Harrison Ford, breaking his ankle:
"That was a horrible day. I immediately tried to lift it, but it wouldn't even move. It was stopped by an emergency button, but none of us knew that. We were all freaking out. But [Ford] was great, he wanted everyone to not worry about him."
Warning: Major spoilers for The Force Awakens ahead!
Suotamo further discussed his time on set, specifically when they shot the scene in which Han Solo meets his demise:
"It was a tense feeling on set. Everything was much more quiet than usual. Between takes, no one would talk much. Watching Harrison and Adam Driver do the scene was emotional."
He also added that he plans to continue doubling for Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca in future Star Wars films. Be sure to read the full article with Joonas Suotamo on Business Insider!
Source: Business Insider
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