Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo talks heavy sweating in his 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' suit
Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo has proven his mastery of the Wookiee roar. But at the Solo: A Star Wars Story premiere on Thursday in Hollywood, it was nice to hear the 31-year-old speak English.
"Thanks for giving me all that dialogue," Suotamo quipped to Solo screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan on the red carpet. "I especially love the line where I say, (makes Wookiee utterance)."
"That was one of your sharpest jokes," laughed Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote Return of the Jedi.
In reality, the 6-foot-10 Suotamo spent much of his time on the Solo set saying nothing and profusely perspiring. Even though the former basketball player has been playing the role since doubling for Peter Mayhew on 2015's The Force Awakens, he says the job hasn't gotten any less sweaty.
"That’s one constant," he told USA TODAY on the red carpet. "(The suit) is still as hot as it was then. But because I’ve asked for the fans to be brought out more often, they know now that this Wookiee, if he doesn’t cool down, he’s gonna be even angrier the next day."
To cope with the unbearable heat of wearing a furry suit, Suotamo says he tried to take off his Chewie head in between takes, revealing the dark raccoon makeup around his eyes. However, other times he had to keep the hat on, because for close-ups he had hairs glued to his eyes that couldn't be easily removed.
The longest he's worn the head and Chewbacca body straight? Four hours.
"That always feels a little claustraphobic," Suotamo said. "On heavy days like that, I like to just sit down and look at the wall."
Though playing Han Solo's best friend is exhausting, "I suffer it, because I love this character," he said.
Suotamo's castmates love the character, too.
Emilia Clarke, who plays Qi'Ra, said at the premiere, "(If) I'm having a bad day, (I tell Joonas to) just come here. Chewie always has time for a hug."
More:Alden Ehrenreich's Han Solo audition involved reading with a dog puppet
And director Ron Howard said a Wookiee embrace was an important way for him to start work on the Star Wars spinoff film.
"I got a big Chewbacca hug on day one, and a fist bump. And that was really an experience every movie maker ought to have. It was a rare one, but it was very affirming."
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters May 25.
Looking for a spoiler-free review of 'Solo'? Listen to our geek culture podcast, The Mothership.