Although the late Peter Mayhew reprised Chewbacca for a few scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, most of that performance was delivered by Joonas Suotamo, who would go on to play the Wookiee for the rest of the Sequel Trilogy and Solo: A Star Wars Story. This allowed him the opportunity to work alongside Harrison Ford since Han Solo had a prominent role in Episode VII, and one of their funnier moments together was improvised by Suotamo.
During Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when Han Solo, Chewbacca, Finn and Rey are leaving Starkiller Base, as they step onto the turbolift, Chewbacca picks up Han’s parka that had been thrown on the ground earlier and hands it back to his buddy, prompting Han to flash Chewie a bewildered look. When asked what he remembered about shooting that moment, Joonas Sutamo responded:
(Laughs.) I’m pretty sure I improvised that. I gave the jacket to Han, and then J.J. thought about it before realizing, ‘Oh, yeah, he has to have the jacket since we’re going outside.’ So, it was left in, and I was really happy about that. I might have come up with it during rehearsal first, but it was one of my only ideas that got to stay in the film. I’m really proud of that scene, and I’m so happy that you noticed that. It’s so comedic that Chewbacca is worrying about Han’s jacket.
Whether Starkiller Base was as chilly as Hoth, arguably the more well-known snow planet in the Star Wars universe, is debatable, but regardless, a human like Han Solo needs to be bundled up if he wants to stay relatively comfy when outdoors. So along with Chewbacca retrieving the parka being an amusing display of friendship (at this point, he and Han have been together for over 40 years), it’s also interesting to hear that Joonas Suotamo came up with this on his own and it was kept in the movie. Not all improvised moments like that end up making the final cut.
You can re-watch this Star Wars: The Force Awakens below.
Sadly, Han Solo was killed by his son in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and for the rest of the Sequel Trilogy, Chewbacca had rotating partners in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, including Rey, Poe Dameron and Lando Calrissian. Joonas Suotamo was later asked in this same interview with The Hollywood Reporter which of these folks had the “best jokes or banter in between takes,” and he replied:
Harrison was flying the Falcon, and I needed to look back and yell something at Finn. I didn’t realize at the time why I was looking back, and I asked J.J., ‘What’s my motivation for doing this?’ Harrison then looked at me and said, ‘It’s for the money, stupid.’ (Laughs.) So, I learned that early on, and it was so true.
That’s just the kind of bluntness we’ve come to expect from Harrison Ford over the years, so I can respect Joonas Suotamo for picking this as a treasured memory of his time with the actor. The Force Awakens is so far the only time Ford and Suotamo have worked together, but perhaps their paths will cross again on a non-galaxy far, far away-related project in the future.
You can still catch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, in theaters now, and keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on the future of the Star Wars franchise. In the meantime, browse through our 2020 release schedule to plan what you’ll be seeing on the silver screen this year.