Meet Peter Mayhew's Chewbacca Replacement From STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Peter Mayhew, who has played Chewbacca in all of the live-action Star Wars films in which the character appeared, kept that streak alive in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But he wasn't the only one wearing the Wookiee suit this time around. /Film points us to a Business Insider article that profiles 29-year-old Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo, a former Penn State basketball player who answered a casting call that resulted in him playing one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars universe.
Mayhew, who is 71 years old now, has to walk with a cane, so Abrams needed someone a little younger and more spry to handle the action scenes in the film.
Suotamo was on set for five months, working alongside Mayhew, who would talk to his understudy for hours about the intricacies of Chewbacca.
Following his daily morning trip to get black makeup applied around his eyes so his skin wouldn't show through the eye sockets of the Chewie mask, Suotamo would spend his time before being called to set standing next to a full-length mirror, imitating Mayhew's movements. He wanted to keep the character fresh in his mind. Chewie's scenes were often shot twice, once with Mayhew in the suit and a second time with Suotamo.
He refuses to point out the scenes in which he appears, leaving it up to fans to figure out when we're watching Mayhew's performance and when we're watching his. It seems likely that he'll continue playing the part in future movies, and maybe even fully take over the part when Mayhew retires. (When asked if he'll be back, Suotamo replied, "I would assume things will stay the same.")
Check out the full Business Insider profile here for more information, but what do you think about the new Chewie? Did you notice that it wasn't Mayhew in the costume when you were watching The Force Awakens?