Chewbacca In 'The Rise Of Skywalker' Is The Role Model We've Always Needed

Actor Joonas Suotamo has a theory why the Wookiee is so popular with "Star Wars" fans.

Yes, the new “Star Wars” is upon us.

As fans new and old check out “The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens in Canada on Thursday, Dec. 19, we got the chance to go deeper with one of the franchise’s iconic characters.

From the very beginning, Chewbacca has been a loyal friend and resistance fighter. First portrayed by Peter Mayhew and now by Joonas Suotamo, the hairy, eight-foot-tall sidekick has endured as a beloved character.

“I think he’s a great role model for all outsiders,” Suotamo, a former basketball player, told HuffPost Canada. He also talked about how Chewie’s way of communicating mirrors the legacy of silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin.

Joonas Suotamo is Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley is Rey and John Boyega is Finn in "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker."
Joonas Suotamo is Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley is Rey and John Boyega is Finn in "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker."

Suotamo, 33, started his acting career performing on stage in Finland, where he was born. He played basketball at Pennsylvania State University where he graduated in 2008 and for the Finnish national team.

He served in the army, as part of the Finnish conscription service, where he rose to the rank of second lieutenant.

Suotamo worked with Mayhew as the Chewie body double in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and then took over the role in “The Last Jedi” as Mayhew’s health worsened. The original Chewbacca actor passed away in April.