That's rooted in our fondness for the character, which Suotamo qualifies as "eternal." "We're talking about characters that we've known for 40 years. It's a really cool, Biblical thing that happens here," he says. "I love it. I love the vastness of the universe of Star Wars, that anything could happen, everything will happen, that kind of feeling." Chewie is the rare kind of character who transcends the movies he appears in: There's familiarity, the sense that we know Chewbacca personally. He's an old friend, regardless of who's stowed away in the costume.
Granted, that familiarity is rooted foremost in the efforts of Peter Mayhew, who originated the character in Star Wars, played him in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Revenge of the Sith, split Chewie duties with Suotamo for 2015's The Force Awakens, and then served as the Chewbacca consultant (his actual credit) for The Last Jedi, marking Suotamo's first full-time foray in the costume. Naturally, Mayhew provided Suotamo with the initial template for bringing Chewbacca to life. "It was easy for me to go back to the original films and watch Peter's performance, and just know what I had to do to move in a similar way," he says, validating his own enthusiasm for the classic Star Wars films. He's not just an actor in a Star Wars flick. He's a Star Wars die-hard, too.