Posts tagged ‘Joonas Suotamo’

Wookiee Sensation

Our March/April issue includes a feature on former Nittany Lion basketball center Joonas Suotamo ’08, who had quite a large role in bringing an iconic character to the screen in the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you saw the movie — and by now, who hasn’t — you’re probably thinking, “Huh?!?! I don’t remember a 7-foot blonde Finnish guy in that?” That is, unless you recognize his friendly blue eyes.

Suotamo assumed the role of Chewbacca, the trusty co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Cast to help lessen the physical burden on 73-year-old Peter Mayhew, Suotamo didn’t miss a beat in making his Wookiee a virtual carbon copy of the original, despite being about four inches shorter. (And neither is saying which scenes feature either actor.)

So what’s the key to playing Chewbacca? Said Suotamo when we caught up with him recently via Skype from his native Finland, “You have to realize the stubbornness of that hairy carpet. He doesn’t take kindly to advice when he’s flying in his Millennium Falcon. It was just diving into the role and trying to behave as he would in whatever the story demanded.”

And the growl? On screen it’s a sound effect added in later by film editors. But Suotamo does do his own interpretation of a Wookiee growl, and he did it for us in this clip from the interview:

For more on Suotamo’s story, check out our March/April issue. You can read more tidbits from the interview below.



February 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

Inside Our March/April 2016 Issue

MA_BlogpostWe blinked and it was the end of February, which means that our latest issue will be headed your way any day now. For our cover story, Ryan Jones talked to five Muslim students at Penn State and learned about what life is like on campus, and in America, today. The interview, “People Have to Understand Who We Are,” starts on p. 28.

You’ll also find a feature on the Nittany Lion baseball team, which traveled to Havana in November to play against professional teams from Cuba. Penn State journalism students and faculty were there to document the historic trip.

Later in the issue, “On the Right Path” shares the stories of nine alums who followed unconventional routes to land the jobs of their dreams.

Don’t miss the interview with Chewbacca—er, rather, Joonas Suotamo ’08, the former basketball player-turned-actor who played him in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—on p. 24. The magazine also includes a recap of President Barron’s recent entrepreneurial trail; a look at freshman wrestling standout Bo Nickal; and a profile on award-winning medical student Allison Cleary.

Let us know what you think of our latest issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

February 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm 6 comments

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