You don’t get into fighting shape for the sequel trilogy without pushing a few weights as Billy Dee Williams recently showed us and Chewbacca performer Joonas Suotamo has revealed his own workout that gets him fit enough to occupy the yak hair suit.
If you had to pick one main character in the Star Wars universe to win a strength contest (no Force powers allowed), your best bet would undoubtedly be Chewbacca. The big Wookie’s hulking presence has been a mainstay in the franchise since the first film, A New Hope in 1977, when C-3PO learns that he should always “let the Wookie win”—or risk having his arms pulled out of their sockets.
But underneath all that brawn and fur is a real man. In the original movies, that was 7’2” British actor Peter Mayhew, who passed away earlier this year. Since the new trilogy kicked off in 2015, 6’10” Finnish actor (and former Penn State basketball player) Joonas Suotamo has played the role, first as a body double for Mayhew in The Force Awakens, then as full-time Chewie in The Last Jedi and Solo. The actor has the size needed for the character, which is crucial, but he also depends on his athleticism and hard-earned strength to help him fully embody the role. (Suotamo’s mastery of the yowling Wookie language, Shyriiwook, is also essential.)