Joonas Suotamo Recalls ‘Wookiee Boot Camp’ With Original Chewbacca Peter Mayhew

Recently, the original actor behind Chewbacca’s costume concluded his journey to a galaxy far, far away at age 74. Peter Mayhew’s sudden departure from this world left a hole in Star Wars‘ aficionados’ heart. A few days after the sad news, Joonas Suotamo, the man who continues to bring Chewbacca to life on the big screen, wrote his mentor a touching tribute for Time, which the magazine just published.

“I first met Peter on a sunny day in a backlot at Pinewood Studios, a day or two before we started filming The Force Awakens,” Suotamo wrote. “We were in his trailer, and as he stood up, I realized what a gigantic man he was. And as I talked with him, I realized what a big heart he had. He generously told stories and encouraged me — we were going to bring Chewbacca to life together for The Force Awakens. To this day, no one knows which scenes I did and which he did for that movie, except the crew. It was a very warm, very exciting time.”

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After describing their first encounter, Suotamo revealed that he took part at “Wookiee Boot Camp” to improve his character’s knowledge.

“After Force Awakenswe spent a week at what we called Wookiee Boot Camp”, he added. “We would watch old footage of Peter as Chewbacca, and he would explain why he did the things that we see in those legendary scenes. He was very generous with the information.”

Eventually, Mayhew retired from playing Chewbacca due to health problems, but remained part of the franchise as a “Chewbacca consultant” to Suotamo and crew. When he died, several convention appearances were still on his schedule.

What’s your favorite Chewbacca moment? Let us know in comments.