Surprise! Chewbacca is your new crush. Yes, seriously. Not the 190-year-old, fur-covered Wookiee, though — the actor underneath the Wookiee suit. At 6-foot-10, the striking Finnish star is kind of hard to miss when he's walking the red carpet, so is Joonas Suotamo dating anyone? Sorry everyone, but the new Chewie is taken. He's also a new dad, and has the most adorable nickname for his infant son: Baby Bacca. *Squeal!*
Suotamo first stepped into the Chewbacca suit in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. At the time, the role was still being played by a then 71-year-old Peter Mayhew — the first and only Chewie since the franchise began — so they recruited Suotamo to step in for the action scenes before taking on the role entirely in 2017's The Last Jedi, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Some Instagram sleuthing reveals that Suotamo's partner, Milla Pohjasvaara, has been by his side from the very beginning of his wild Star Wars ride. Pohjasvaara posted her first picture of Suotamo on Instagram back in August 2015, and revealed in a post two years later that her actor-beau had proposed.
In August 2017, Pohjasvaara shared a picture of her engagement ring and wrote, "Would I be his wife, he asked me today after making pancakes and caught me completely by surprise. I nearly swooned like maidens in old novels. Yes, I will. And such a pretty ring. I feel so happy." Aww. The ring is really pretty, by the way.
One month later, Suotamo revealed that Pohjasvaara was pregnant in an adorable Instagram photo that showed a little stuffed Porg and tiny Wookiee pajamas. "Guess what?" the actor wrote. "We are glad to announce that the owner of this porg will arrive in February 2018." He also included the hashtag #babychewie, and thus a nickname was born.
Baby Chewie has since evolved into "Baby Bacca," and it seems like it might be the nickname that sticks. On May 21, Suotamo shared a sweet photo of their son with the caption, "Allow me to introduce you to Aatos aka Babybacca. Here he is looking over Philly and wondering where we will fly next!"
Suotamo's love for his character goes well-beyond nicknames and Wookiee pajamas, though. After it was announced that he'd taken over the role in early 2017, the actor wrote a statement about his experience playing Chewbacca, and graciously paid tribute to the original Chewie.
Chewbacca is one of the most iconic characters in the history of film, and Peter's development and portrayal of this beloved Wookie has spread so much joy around the globe. Peter's guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love.
Before Suotamo got his big break with the Star Wars franchise, the 31-year-old assumed another role that took advantage of his towering height as a basketball player for Penn State University, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He graduated with a degree in film, but thought he was too tall to have a career as an actor.
"I loved doing theater in high school," he told Business Insider in 2016. "But I just didn't believe my chances to get any acting part were possible because of my size, so I studied more behind the camera." Suotamo returned to Finland after college, and started his own production company while selling insurance over the phone.
He got word that a film was scouting for blue-eyed actors around seven feet tall from an old basketball coach in 2013, and "was told to send in an audition tape of me doing a caveman impression," the star revealed. It wasn't until later that he'd find out he'd been trying out to play Chewbacca, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fans can catch Suotamo as Chewbacca when Solo comes out on May 25. Since he's officially off the market, though, cuddling with a stuffed Chewie will have to suffice.