Begin van het jaar sprak ik op deze site de wens uit om in 2017 een grote naam te mogen interviewen. Elf maanden later kwam deze wens uit.
Op 18 november was de meer dan 2 meter lange Finse ex-basketballer Joonas Suotamo te gast op Dutch Comic Con in Utrecht. Star Wars fans kennen hem als Chewbacca, een rol die hij in The Force Awakens en The Last Jedi nog deelde met de oorspronkelijke Chewbacca-acteur Peter Mayhew, maar vanaf Solo: A Star Wars Story voortaan helemaal zelf voor zijn rekening neemt. Letterlijk én figuurlijk dus een grote naam!
Vorige week zaterdag was het dan zover en kon ik de uiterst vriendelijke Joonas alles vragen wat ik ooit over Chewbacca wilde weten…
Interview met Joonas Suotamo
How did a basketball player from Finland become a Wookiee in a Galaxy Far Far Away?
I was made aware of the casting process and the fact they were looking for someone to play Chewbacca by a Facebook post. At the time I didn’t think I would get it. But time went by and three months later they called me because they had learned through the basketball association of Finland that I was tall, had blue eyes and they became interested and that is how it happened. I had to audition then and got the part.
When was your first encounter with the Star Wars saga?
That was a VHS tape back in the nineties… or maybe even earlier… I was very young.
What did you think of the movies?
I loved it. I thought it was an essential thing, I took it for granted. I mean, in the sense that it was in my world. It was there before I was born. I appreciated and respected it and I think that paid off in the end.
What did you think of Chewbacca?
Chewbacca was that tall hairy guy walking behind everybody in the scenes. I must say I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I was little because of my blonde hair. But then when I got taller than almost everybody by 2 feet I realized I couldn’t be Luke Skywalker basically.
You were destined to play Chewbacca.
Exactly. But all of that came much later.
You worked with Peter Mayhew on two movies. What advice or instructions did he gave you regarding playing Chewbacca and taking over the role.
He said “don’t be so skinny”. I was very skinny (laughs). So that was a good advice. He also told me how he approaches playing Chewie and what he pays attention to in situations and interesting stuff like that. That was really helpful and confirming my own assumptions that I made by watching him work so it was very good to meet him before we started filming
In The Force Awakens most of Chewbacca’s scenes had Harrison Ford as Han Solo in it as well. How was it to work with such a famous well-known actor?
A little bit scary at first but once you got to work with him more you realize he just wants to do his best like we all do and it was very easy to focus on the work when he was around because he is such a professional. He just comes on set, leaves his life behind him in the trailer and wants to do the scene. It’s a straight to business kind of approach which I like when we’re making films.
The most iconic scene of The Force Awakens is the one where Solo and Chewbacca enter the Falcon. I believe that was you and not Peter Mayhew in the suit, right?
I can tell because of your eyes. Chewbacca’s eyes in that scene are yours. What do you think of the enormous positive reactions this scene received from the fans when it appeared in the trailer?
I was watching the reaction videos of people watching that trailer and it was insane to see how people reacted. Half of it was seeing Harrison Ford and the other half was seeing Chewie.
You couldn’t tell anyone back then it was you in the suit. Was that frustrating?
I learned to accept it you know. I can’t really tell about who played Chewbacca in which scene. I mean, I could, but it’s out of respect for Peter and I don’t want to get into it. I am still grateful I got to be a part of all this.
How was the main cast of The Force Awakens , Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, to work with?
They were just amazing. The only thing is that since they’re both from London they talk so fast sometimes! It can be hard to follow them!
What do you regard as the best moment you’ve had playing Chewbacca so far?
We just finished shooting this film (Solo: A Star Wars Story) that I can’t talk to you about at all (laughs). There were some good moments there!
Ok, I will have to skip the next five questions then!
(Laughs) There were some great moments there. Well, I got to say, doing interactions with the Porgs in The Last Jedi was very interesting. I can’t wait to see those.
Have you seen The Last Jedi?
I haven’t seen it.
But you know how it will end?
Yeah, I read the script.
Ok… I won’t ask anything about the ending.
(Laughs) I wouldn’t say anything!
What was the weirdest thing that happened on the set of The Force Awakens?
Harrison is such a presence that anything he said was always funny. He liked the fact that he was back playing Han Solo and if he said something everyone would be listening and it was very energetic and I really liked that. What was weird seeing was him almost getting killed in the incident where the door landed on his foot. I was there when it happened and I thought he was dead. Luckily he wasn’t!
Well, he is Han Solo… and Indiana Jones!
Regarding Han Solo: in the Han Solo spinoff movie you play alongside Alden Ehrenreich who is taking over the role. What do you think of his portrayal as Solo?
Well, no one has seen any footage yet, but I can tell you everyone will be pleasantly surprised with his performance and with the direction of that movie, storywise.
A couple of months ago the Solo movie got a new director: Ron Howard. A good move?
Ron Howard is a great and legendary director. He’s old-school. For instance, I did this scene where I had to walk for the sixteenth time. He noticed from the way I was walking I was a bit tired, so he came up to me and said I should relax and take a breath. My career has just started and I have already worked with so many great directors.
After this trilogy has ended will we see you as Chewbacca or another character in a new Star Wars movie or TV series?
I hope so. I also want to explore other roles in other movies.
A new Star Wars trilogy was recently announced…
Yes, but it’s way too early to say anything about it. I haven’t been contacted about that yet.
Well, I hope they will! Thanks for the interview and I can’t wait to see Chewbacca again in The Last Jedi and in Solo: A Star Wars Story!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…
Collector’s Edition: #2 Shane Garrad
Collector’s Edition is een onderdeel op deze site waar we , in samenwerking met Echo Base, een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit tweede deel een kort vraaggesprek met Shane Garrad, ik heb Shane zijn collectie ontdekt door zijn Instagram en ik wist direct dat hij meer dan geschikt was voor deze rubriek.
Hi Shane, please introduce yourself.
How did you get into collecting Star Wars?
You have a big Star Wars room, what is the focus of your collection?
What is your most valuable item?
Any white whales you are still searching for?
Any items in your collection that were exclusive for Australia?
Is there a big collectors scene in Australia?
Collector’s Edition: #1 Mark Newbold
Collector’s Edition is een nieuw onderdeel op deze site waar we een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit eerste deel een kort vraaggesprek met Mark Newbold, oprichter van de site FanthaTracks.com en vaste schrijver voor Star Wars Insider en StarWars.com.
Hi Mark, please introduce yourself!
My name is Mark Newbold. I am the editor in chief of Fantha Tracks and I’ve been writing for StarWars.com, Starburst magazine (the longest running Sci-Fi magazine) and since 2006 for Star Wars Insider. I worked for De Agostini’s, build the Millennium Falcon, right now I am working on the Spanish version of the Fact Files series. I started a website in the ‘90s and there was not so much Star Wars going on at the time. So for a while it was a Star Trek site (don’t tell anybody) and then it became more of a general sci-fi site. And when it was clear in the late ‘90s that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.
When did you start collecting?
Pretty much since the beginning. I saw the movie a couple of months after the release, it came out in December 1977 in London so probably I saw it in the months after that, I was six at the time. My aunt bought me a Star Wars magazine and that was the very first piece of my collection. In the years after ’83 there was nothing Star Wars anymore, and we made fanfiction. And in the 90’s when it was clear that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.
What is the focus of your collection?
The problem is that I have no main focus. I like to collect all little bits and pieces, like stickers and buttons. It took me a bit, but I’ve got all the vintage figures together. I don’t need to have them in mint condition or anything so that made it easier. And I’ve also got a lot of Star Wars books. And I have different formats of soundtracks and audio books, laserdisc and games.
The good thing is I am not a completionist, so I don’t care too much about that. I like to collect small things. I always say that I would not be bothered if everything in my collection room would fit in the palm of my hand. I like it to have it a bit chaotic and have full shelves. Friends can come over and look around and pick things ups and ask questions. The most fun about collecting is the stories behind every piece.
What is the most valuable piece in your collection?
The Art of Star Wars signed by Ralph McQuarrie at a book signing in the mid 90’s. Nobody was in the queue behind me, so I got 5 minutes to talk with him, I wish I could say we had some deep conversations but it was probably small talk about the weather. Later, a friend of mine took the book to a convention in Paris and got it signed by Joe Johnston and that was the only time it left my side. If something would happen or if I could only keep one thing, it would probably be this this book.
What item took you very long to get, but in the end, you found it.
I was searching for years for SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back on VHS (a television documentary special hosted by actor Mark Hamill, about the special effects of Empire) and I knew a friend of mine had it and after some years he told me that he knew I wanted it. I made him an offer and in the end agreed on half of it and now I have it.
Any big wishes you have or white whales that you are after?
Luckily I don’t have one now. Like I said I love to collect everything, and I am not a completionist. It’s a shame because I like to look for something and search for something. It was a lot of fun in the days before the internet. I loved going to conventions and comic stores searching for that special missing piece.
I know from your social media that you visited Steve Sansweet at Rancho Obi-Wan, what is your relationship with him?
I contacted him when I was writing a piece for Star Wars Insider about the connection of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. And he was at the time still working for Lucasfilm so he could help me with advice on that article. And couple of years later I interviewed him for Star Wars Insider, and we stayed in contact through social media. I met him again at a convention and we became friends. I was at Rancho Obi-Wan for the Guinness Book of Records party. And a couple of times after that. we stayed at Steve’s house and hade breakfast with him, he is a very friendly and very funny guy. If you have the chance to visit Rancho Obi Wan, you should definitely do so!
De verzameling van Mark Newbold
Volg Mark Newbold op FanthaTracks.com en op Twitter @Prefect_Timing
Exclusief interview met Nick Stanner (Stunt performer – The Mandalorian)
Wat zou Star Wars zijn zonder goede stuntlui? Iemand moet de stormtrooper zijn die door een vlammenwerper in rook opgaat of van een rots af valt!
In The Mandalorian ging stuntman Nick Stanner meer dan 30 keer ‘dood’ en was hij als diverse personages te zien. Van Mandalorian tot stormtrooper! Onlangs interviewde ik hem voor StarWarsInterviews.com en zoals altijd is het ook hier te lezen!
How did your journey in movies start? How and why did you become a stuntman?
Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska I was not around film at all. I grew up competing in Gymnastics for my parents’ club all the way through college. I was always flipping off something and in eighth grade I remember watching a movie, not sure which one, but I mentioned I wanted to “do that” as I pointed at the screen. My mom asked if I wanted to be an actor, and I said, “No, I wanna do the cool stuff!” Mom said Oh a stuntman?! I said yeah, and went back to being an eighth grader. Fast forward to after college, I was looking for a new apartment in Lincoln Nebraska where I went to collegians was telling my mom and she said, “I thought you said you wanted to go be a stuntman! When are you going to do that?” The second I heard my mom say that and I knew she supported me no matter where I was, I decided to leave. I headed to Florida to get involved with the live stunt shows at the theme parks like Indiana Jones at Disney, Sindbad at Universal and many others in the Orlando area. Once I got into some of those shows I started to meet people in the film industry.
How did you manage to get hired for The Mandalorian TV series?
One of my best friends that I met at the very first show I did when I moved to Florida was Ryan Watson, the Stunt and Fight Coordinator for The Mandalorian now. We have known each other since 1999. He is one of the best in the industry for fights and creative camera work.
Which characters did you play as a stuntman? The Mandalorian himself?
I played a mandalorian, but not THE Mandalorian. The Mandalorian stunt double is Lateef Crowder. He is amazing with movement. I played numerous characters. I died 32 times in the first eighth episodes, many as a stormtrooper. I did all the high falls so any time someone falls from a roof, that’s me. You can count at least four in the final battle in episode 1. 3 falls in one circle of the gun and one when IG-11 shoots me before they walk in the door. That’s a couple examples, but I am all over the place. I also was the green face guy with Carl Weathers and speeder bike trooper.
You just mentioned that you ‘died’ 32 times. What was your favorite death scene?
Each death was unique. My favorite is high falls, which is why I get to do them all, but being torched by mandos flame thrower as a stormtrooper.
Which of these characters was your favorite?
They are all fun to play, but there is nothing like being a jet pack mandalorian flying on wires. Kids dream come true!
Did you meet the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal? How was he to work with?
I met everyone and worked with the whole cast! It’s an amazing crew with no lack of talent and everyone is very down to earth. Being there every day, I had a chance to get to know everyone pretty well. Pedro is a jokester so we got along great. I’m a big comedy fan so I enjoyed Bill Burr.
Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?
There were a few funny moments on set. Lots of laughs all around really but when it was time to work playtime was over. Off the set there was plenty of laughs and good times. When you’re working 10-14-hour days it takes the whole crew to keep everyone in good moods and in the film biz there is no shortage of laughs.
What is your favorite anecdote regarding the production of The Mandalorian?
My fave laughs, not sure of anecdote, was when Bill burr would mess with the crew. He has such quick wit and had the entire crew laughing!
Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?
I was a so-so Star Wars fan. I liked the movies, mainly the first 3, and saw them pretty young. Being involved has brought me a little deeper into the world but I would not consider myself a diehard fan.
The question I have to ask every stuntman: what is the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever done?
Most dangerous stunt would be getting hit by car in Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon, or a 9-story high fall while being lit on fire, but it could be being hung underneath a helicopter by 75 feet of cable and flown over Los Angeles! Hard to pick just one, they are all super fun to me!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Exclusief interview met Jake Cannavale (Toro Calican)
In aflevering 5 van The Mandalorian maakten we kennis met de jonge premiejager Toro Calican, gespeeld door Jake Cannavale. Speciaal voor zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com beantwoordde hij kort enkele vragen!
How did you get cast for The Mandalorian and were you a Star Wars fan?
They asked my agent if I would like to be in it. And I’m a massive fan and always will be.
How did the shooting of your scenes (most of them with Pedro Pascal) go?
They went very well. There was not a single difficult person to work with on that entire set. In my so far very short career that’s already not something I take lightly. Pedro Pascal was awesome! Mad love to Pedro.
You were directed by Dave Filoni, who many fans see as George Lucas’ heir. What is your opinion of him?
Other than the fact that he genuinely loves The Phantom Menace I have literally nothing bad to say about Dave. He’s the man. I loved working with him as an actor, and I have nothing but faith in him as a fan.
Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?
During me and Ming’s fight scene, Dave told her stunt double -whose name is also Ming- to actually kinda beat me up…it looked fantastic.
What is the best memory you have regarding The Mandalorian?
Probably knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can pull off a blue leather outfit.
Besides acting you’re also a musician in a band called Vixen Maw. How would you describe the music you make and who are your musical influences?
Vixen Maw is an experimental grindcore band. I would describe us as the musical equivalent of getting lobotomized by an unlicensed brain surgeon with Parkinson’s disease and medical fetishism. I don’t like to speak on behalf of my band members (or anyone, as a general rule) but I can say we are all pretty eclectic in terms of our musical tastes, with extreme music being the anchor, or epicenter, so to speak. So our influences are pretty all over the place. I will say that we are currently writing a new album from our own respective quarantine spots and some of the bands I’ve been listening to for inspiration include Chepang, Bandit, Narayama, Vulva Essers, Cloud Rat, Botch, Wormrot, Coke Bust, Gulch, and Bryan Adams.
You’re almost 25 years old. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what are your career goals?
In ten years I see myself hopefully having had enough memorable screen time to be sampled in some kids shitty grindcore band that his parents are sick of hearing rehearse from their garage. Also I would genuinely love to be writing for a living. Theater, film and animated television.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews