Posts tagged ‘The Force Awakens’

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.

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


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