Meet the Scourge: Joonas Suotamo Reveals His Surprise Willow Role

The Chewbacca actor talks to Lucasfilm.com about becoming a Willow baddie.

It was between takes on Solo: A Star Wars Story. Erin Kellyman, in costume as the marauder Enfys Nest, jumped on Joonas Suotamo’s back. Suotamo, of course, was playing everyone’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca. The playful moment was captured in a charming behind-the-scenes photo that seemed to both ask and answer the question, Who wouldn’t want a piggyback ride from Chewbacca? No one.

But when the two actors were reunited on the set of the new Willow series, premiering November 30 on Disney+, things didn’t quite play out the same way.

“We thought, ‘Hey, let’s recreate me taking you piggyback like we did on Solo,’” Suotamo tells Lucasfilm.com in an exclusive interview. “And as soon as she saw the costume, she said, ‘We’re not doing this.’”

It’s hard to blame her. Lucasfilm.com can reveal that, in Willow, Suotamo plays a monstrosity known only as the Scourge, with cracked gray skin covered in slime, and wearing a spiked cage over his head. As part of the mysterious Gales, Suotamo’s humanoid creature is pretty different from a lovable, cuddly Wookiee, and is a major threat to the heroes of Tir Asleen.

“The Gales are these lackeys for this sinister being,” he says. “Through some dark magic, they’ve become these really unnaturally strong fighters.”

Suotamo came to Tir Asleen via the galaxy far, far away thanks to Jon Kasdan, Solo co-writer and showrunner of Willow. When Kasdan needed someone for the role of a “beastly, muscular” hulk, the 6-foot-11 actor seemed perfect.

“Jon messaged me and said, ‘I might have a role for you if you’re interested,’” Suotamo recalls. “And it ended up being a fantastic experience.” Part of the experience included transforming into his character.

“Compared to Chewie, the costume was a lot more to put on,” he says. “I had a team of people following me with different gadgets and gloves and the cage.” Suotamo would spend about two to three hours in the makeup chair every morning, putting on a muscle suit, makeup, and having silicone material glued onto his face. The aesthetics were only half the journey, though.

“It was new territory for me,” he says. “I’d grown accustomed to playing these lovable moments, and all of a sudden, that’s not my job at all.” In the end, Suotamo found a way to play evil. “There were a lot of times I would be in the dark, rehearsing my violent outbursts in the suit,” he says.

Was it a successful way to prepare?

“I think I scared a lot of crew members,” Suotamo says laughing.

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