Chewbacca might look the same in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but don’t let that fool you. Inside the furry costume is a whole new guy.
Joonas Suotamo, 31, was a body double for the iconic character in The Force Awakens, and now in the origin story, he takes on the role fully for the first time.
Like Chewbacca, the actor stands tall at 7 ft. “People have always felt they can approach me easily,” he tells PEOPLE in the special issue, Star Wars: The Secrets of Solo (available for purchase now). “Because there’s always something to talk about, which is ‘Do you play basketball?’ ‘No, I play mini golf.’ Kidding!”
Although he’s taller than your average actor, Suotamo still needed to wear heels in his shoes for certain scenes in Solo.
As for perfecting the creature’s voice, Suotamo says he can “conjure it up pretty successfully.” “I do it often,” he says. “Especially with my nephews.”
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The Ron Howard-directed adventure stars Alden Ehrenreich, who takes on the title role originated by Harrison Ford in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. The origin story costars Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson.
Solo: A Star Wars Story flies into theaters May 25.