Fans have known for a while that Peter Mayhew hasn’t been in the best of health, but he still managed to put on the suit as Chewbacca one more time in The Force Awakens. He did so with the help of body double Joonas Suotamo, a former power forward for Penn State and generally interesting guy. Suotamo, it turns out, was being groomed to take over Chewie for good, which he announced last night in a heartfelt letter.
Suotamo posted the whole letter on Twitter for fans:
It is, of course, more than a little bittersweet for all involved. Mayhew’s career has been defined by Chewie, having played him everywhere from amusement park rides to an appearance on Late Show With David Letterman, not to mention five Star Wars movies so far, and apparently he’ll be getting one last go in the suit when Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out this December. But on the bright side, he gets to pass on the role on his terms, and the fan outpouring of love and support has been genuinely touching.
Now, of course, it’s all on Suotamo. We’ll see how he does in his solo outing in 2018, when the Han Solo standalone movie arrives in theaters.