Penn State

Former Nittany Lion will fill iconic ‘Star Wars’ role

Cast members and co-directors of the Han Solo “Star Wars” spin-off pose for a photo, from bottom left, co-director Christopher Miller, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, co-director Phil Lord and Donald Glover.
Cast members and co-directors of the Han Solo “Star Wars” spin-off pose for a photo, from bottom left, co-director Christopher Miller, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, co-director Phil Lord and Donald Glover. Associated Press

Standing at 6 feet 10 inches tall, Joonas Suotamo was either going to be a Penn State basketball player or the next Chewbacca. Apparently he had trouble deciding.

Last Friday, Suotamo announced on Twitter that he would be filling in for the original walking carpet, err ... Wookiee, Peter Mayhew, on the next film in Disney’s burgeoning “Star Wars” anthology series.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The Lego Movie”) the spin-off film will take a look at the early days of Corellian smuggler and noted scoundrel Han Solo, who — let’s face it — would be nowhere without his furry best bud.

“I am profoundly grateful for this amazing opportunity to become part of the Star Wars franchise that I have loved since my childhood,” Suotamo posted on Twitter.

I am profoundly grateful for this amazing opportunity to become part of the Star Wars franchise that I have loved since my childhood.

Joonas Suotamo

His statement dropped the day after production officially commenced London’s Pinewood Studios. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich (“Hail, Ceasar!”) as a young Han Solo and Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) as an equally bright-eyed Lando Calrissian.

Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton will also appear in roles unknown.

Suotamo comes to the galaxy far, far away by way of Espoo, Finland, but took a brief layover at Penn State, where he played with the Nittany Lions from 2005-08.

Peter’s guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love.

Joonas Suotamo

It wasn’t until 2015 that he would take his first step into a much larger world. The hooping thespian was billed as “Chewbacca Double” in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — technically making his role in the untitled Han Solo feature a promotion.

On Twitter, Suotamo was quick to acknowledge Mayhew’s enormous shadow (four films and 7 feet 2 inches).

“Peter’s guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love,” Suotamo said.

Young Chewbacca is scheduled to make his debut on May 25, 2018.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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