Yesterday, production of the Han Solo movie officially kicked off, and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller celebrated the occasion earlier today by releasing a photo of many of the actors assembled together. Along with the picture came a press release confirming who will comprise the next Star Wars Anthology movie's main cast, and that included clarification about who will be playing Chewbacca. Instead of Peter Mayhew reprising the role, the Wookie will be fully played by Joonas Suotamo.
We've known for almost a year that Chewbacca would be involved in the Han Solo movie, but today Lucasfilm officially announced that Joonas Suotamo will have the Chewbacca role all to himself. That makes this the first time that Peter Mayhew won't be playing the walking carpet in one of the Star Wars movies, although he's still expected to return for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Episode IX. This will be Suotamo's second time playing Chewbacca, as he was double for the character during Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As far as acting work goes, so far the Star Wars movies are Joonas Suotamo's only major credits. Before those projects, he attended Pennsylvania State University, where he played basketball while studying film. He also played basketball professionally in Europe for a time. With the Chewbacca role all to himself in the Han Solo movie, Suotamo will not only be acting under that suit for the action scenes, but will also get to kick it with Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke and the rest of the main cast during the quieter scenes.
Having Chewbacca appear in the Han Solo movie was to be expected given the relationship between those two scoundrels in the Original Trilogy, but it remains to be seen exactly how the Wookie will fit into the story. Are Han and him already adventuring together, or will this movie explain how they first met and became that lovable duo? It's also important to remember that chronologically, the Han Solo movie trails approximately a decade after Revenge of the Sith, when Chewie and Tarrful helped Yoda escape Kashyyyk during Order 66. He and his fellow Wookies have been suffering under the Empire's reign of terror more than most planets, so if this movie is going the 'how they first met' route, we'll presumably see how Han freed Chewbacca from slavery, which is part of the official Star Wars canon.
Along with Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, the Han Solo movie will feature Alden Ehrenreich as the eponymous protagonist and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson reportedly as Han Solo's mentor, Emilia Clarke, Phoebe Waller-Bridge reportedly in a key CGI role and Thandie Newton. No official plot details have been released yet, although it was rumored last year that audiences may see how Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando.
The Han Solo movie hits theaters on May 25, 2018.