Peter Mayhew, the actor behind the galaxy's most beloved furry copilot, has officially retired from Star Wars. Mayhew has played Chewbacca since A New Hope in 1977, a role which he now passes on to Joonas Suotamo.
Suotamo was Mayhew's body double in The Force Awakens. The 6"10 Finnish actor has now accepted the job of full-time Chewbacca— and he couldn't be more thrilled.
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An Amazing Opportunity
The news came through a post on the official #StarWars website, which revealed the first official cast photo from the #HanSolo movie. Suotamo was named as the sole actor to play Chewbacca. It's not yet known if Mayhew will appear in The Last Jedi, though it's still likely.
Suotamo posted the following statement to Twitter, expressing his gratitude for both this new opportunity and Mayhew's "guidance and kindness":
There's no doubt an immense amount of pressure on Suotamo to do the part justice— after all, Mayhew has been setting the bar pretty high for the last 40 years. But if Star Wars fans have any faith in Mayhew's abilities as a mentor, then they can expect the same Chewie we've all come to know and love.
A Long Time Coming
Mayhew was born with Marfan syndrome, which explains his impressive height of 7"3. The disorder also causes strain on his joints, making mobility difficult for the 72-year-old. He sported a lightsaber walking stick during The Force Awakens premiere, and was wheelchair-bound for two years after undergoing double knee surgery.
Suffice to say, Mayhew isn't as spritely as he used to be— though despite what recent internet hoaxes may claim, he is indeed still alive and well:
Do you think Joonas Suotamo will honor the legacy of Peter Mayhew as the new Chewbacca?