Posts tagged ‘Star Wars’

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

Penn State, We Are!!!


We checked, and this is not the car of someone named “Jed I.” Nor does it belong to, Gerald Abrams ’61, whose son Jeffrey Jacob, is directing a little movie that is set for wide release on Thursday night. And by little, of course we mean by comparison to the combined GDP of the European Union, United States and China (which at $46.3 trillion still seems infinitely smaller than what Star Wars: The Force Awakens might gross at the box office this weekend).

In any event, it is the license plate/vehicle of Jo Wilson ’90, who you might assume would be already in line by now. Not quite, but she says she will be skipping out on her office holiday party on Thursday night in order to catch a 7 p.m. showing. (She specifically made sure to get tickets at a theater with reserved seating, so as to avoid the line.)

“I already had my tickets for the first show when I found out about our office party—everyone knows where my heart lies,” she says. She also has tickets for a screening in IMAX this weekend.

While she will not be dressed as Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Rey, Kylo Ren or—God forbid!?—Jar Jar, she will be wearing a “blinged out” Star Wars shirt, and matching jewelry. With the exception of the Penn State accents, her car may actually stand out the least of any Force-related vehicles you might happen to catch in a theater parking lot Thursday night.

Know anyone else who has matched their love of Star Wars—OK, even Jar Jar—with their love of Penn State like this? Let us know in the comments!

And May the Forc—*

(*You get the idea.)


—B.J. Reyes, associate editor

December 16, 2015 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Gerald Abrams Talks JJ and ‘Star Wars’

Longtime film producer, Distinguished Alumnus, and Alumni Fellow Gerald Abrams ’61 talked with FlipsidePA about Star Wars: The Force Awakens and admitted that he told his son, J.J., The Force Awakens‘ director and producer, not to get involved. Despite knowing that J.J. received acclaim for his modern versions of older franchises like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, Gerald was uneasy about what would happen if the new Star Wars film wasn’t considered up to par.

After seeing the movie in advance of the Dec. 18 release date, the elder Abrams changed his tune, saying that “it was probably very smart that he did it” and calling it “the best work he’s ever done.” The proud father – who we wrote about back in 2011 – also dove into his own role with the film: while he didn’t have official involvement, he notes that his son invited him to the set and asked him to read through the script and make notes.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

December 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm 1 comment

The Blue Band Steals the Show

I left Saturday’s football game in the middle of the second quarter, about which I only felt a little guilty at the time. I’m no fair-weather fan—I stayed ’til the bitter, water-logged end against Iowa a few weeks back—but with a restless almost-5-year-old on my lap and a blowout in the cards, I didn’t have too much trouble justifying it to myself this past week. What’d I miss? A whole bunch of points (knew that was coming) and, apparently, one of the best Blue Band halftime performances anyone can remember.

Twitter and the blogosphere were buzzing about it this morning, so I went to YouTube to check it out. Tributes to Batman, Rocky, Back to the Future, and, yes, Star “Roars”? I was bummed to have missed it—and won’t even think of telling my son that he missed anything having to do with Batman and Star Wars, two of his life’s current obsessions—but I’m happy for the band members, who’ve already been forced out of a game or two this season due to the soggy field.

If you weren’t there—or even if you were—enjoy.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 12, 2009 at 4:59 pm 1 comment

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